Three European Designers Share Ideas, Attitudes

Times Staff Writer

Jean-Marc Sinan When Turkish-born designer Jean-Marc Sinan left home at 16 to see the world, he wound up working in a coal mine in Lille, France.

Each day for a year, as Sinan descended into the mine, he took with him a lamp, a bottle of milk and pen and paper to sketch fashions whenever he found the time.

Unable to speak the language, Sinan says that his only friends were the moon and the stars.

"When I left the mine at night, I was alone," he remembers. "The nights were very hard for me. I could only talk to the moon."

At 32, Sinan now has a fashion house in Paris and recently introduced a perfume that bears his name. The ivory-colored bottle cap is in the shape of his old friends--the moon and stars.

Sinan, who is a self-admitted romantic, explains that he created the perfume ($160 per ounce at Robinson's) with a very specific vision of woman in mind.

"I see her with brown hair, very green eyes, a very thin face and very sensual lips," he says dreamily.

But for those women who fall short of that image, Sinan hopes that the customer who dabs on Sinan will be, at the very least, "100% woman."

"I don't see this on a girl in jeans," he shrugs.


Yves Piaget Yves Piaget doesn't look to the heavens for inspiration. His passion is horses. He owns three jumpers, which he keeps near his home outside Geneva. "They're my hobby," he says proudly.

So it should come as no surprise that Piaget, the renowned watch company that was founded by Yves' great-great-grandfather Georges, has successfully managed to marry the worlds of luxury watches and luxury horses. Piaget sponsors polo tournaments in the United States, and four years ago he created a Polo collection of waterproof, shockproof watches in solid 18-karat gold--including one model encrusted with pave diamonds and a mother-of-pearl dial for $10,000. These so-called sport watches have become the company's best sellers.

Francois Bodet Not so at Breguet, the two-centuries-old French watch company. Indeed, Breguet goes out of its way to ensure that its designs--including dial, hands, buckle and milling (the watch's border)--are identical to those founder Abraham-Louis Breguet created in the early 18th Century.

Francois Bodet, Breguet's Paris-based directeur, says that in order to maintain Old World craftsmanship, productivity is limited to 1,000 watches a year. (The watches, which start at $2,700 for women's styles and $3,800 for men's, are available at Tiffany & Co.)

As for sport watches, they simply don't exist at Breguet. However, Bodet reports a growing demand for Old World pocket watches, starting at $5,800, which now account for 10% of sales.

"Modern men," he says, "want old-fashioned styles."

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