Kaleido’s designer Clothilde Dupont is exceptionally cosmopolitan. She is inspired by traditional Japanese artistry, though she was trained in France, and her Origami bags have become fashion favorites. The bags incorporate origami folding techniques into their design, making them both beautiful and provocative – a Kaleido bag is the only piece you need when you want to make a major statement. We spoke to Clothilde to find out why she is drawn to origami and where she spends summer days in her hometown, Paris.
Can you please tell us a little more about yourself?
I am passionate about the fashion and art industries. I am qualified in textile design at the ESAAT and in fashion design at the School of Art Décoratifs de Paris (EnsAD). During my studies, I experimented with the volume and movement around the body and I began to think more about the pleat. My professional background brought me to work in the costume, graphic arts and fashion industry.
Contemporary art, graphic arts and cutting edge Japanese designers nourish my imagination. Designers such as Issey Miyake or Yohji Yamamoto have inspired my creations. In their works, they experiment and propose a new vision of fashion far from the values of classic tailoring and moral aesthetic of the moment.
I also draw inspiration from the discovery of different cultures through my many travels. I discovered Japan and its traditional art of paper folding, origami. On this trip I developed an art project, and had the opportunity to meet artisans in Kyoto and other artists working with textiles. Inspired by origami and furoshiki, the “Origami Bag” collection began. In 2010, I created the brand Kaleido, and my collection will be recognized during the Grand Prix de la Création de la Ville de Paris.
Can you tell us the point when you knew you wanted to become a bag designer?
I began to work and experiment with folding, creating new shapes. The first pieces I made were clothes. Then I found some more designs in paper that I thought could be perfect as bags. That was the start of my work as a bag designer. I found that really interesting and I continued to work on it.
The bag is an important accessory for women. I think you can discover a bit of the wearer’s story through her bag. I like the idea that my designs are a part of a story between my creation and the woman who wears it.
You are inspired by folding techniques you learned during your travels. Can you tell us more about these techniques and why you were attracted to them?
Before my fashion studies, I learned about textile design and I discovered traditional techniques such as silkscreen, weaving and stitching. My French-Argentine origins and my many travels gave me a conscious desire to explore different cultures and discover the richness of their traditions and crafts. For example, I discovered traditional weaving and embroidery in Peru, and traditional leather craft in Argentina.
During my travels in Japan, I developed an art project, and had the opportunity to meet artisans in Kyoto and other artists working with textiles. I had a nice meeting in Kyoto with a young craftsman who worked with his father. For generations, they have done silk painting for high-quality kimono, all by hand. They need 4 months to create the patterns of the kimono. It was really great to learn more about them and discover their craft.
All these experiences inspired my work, and as a designer I try to create in that way: with a nice mix between tradition and modernity. I want to create designs with a story, with a memory of people or cultures.
What types of materials do you use and why?
For the leather goods collection, I have selected nice washed lamb and calf leathers. For the fabric collection, I have selected French and Japanese cotton gabardine and poplin. I use these fabrics because there are nice, practical and adapt to the designs.
What were the challenges in setting up your brand and how did you overcome them?
It has been a year and a half since I created my brand, and I have learned a lot since I started! There are a lot of challenges when you create a brand. You have to do a lot of different jobs at the same time, because creation is important, but communication and marketing are necessary, too.
The challenge was to make sure my brand and collections were discovered overseas, to have more communication about my designs and their story and to continue to create new models for my next collections.
Since January, my brand has been present in international fashion events in Paris and distributed in Asia and the United States. The international buyers appreciate the quality of the products and that all the designs are made by French craftsmen.
Can you please tell us about the design process of your pieces?
My collections are the culmination of an aesthetic reflection from a simple geometric shape, the square. This conceptual research from the pure geometric form are embodied in its folding and allows to build unique volumes, flexible and functional. Unlike the traditional method, models are designed in 3D from the start, like a sculpture, so all faces are worked with precision.
Who is the Kaleido woman?
The Kaleido woman is active, independent, looking for original and contemporary styles. She is sensitive and wants to differentiate herself by purchasing pieces from a designer who designs quality limited editions. She is a curious woman, someone who enjoys Japanese aesthetics, cultures of the world, and is looking for unusual patterns.
What parts of Paris do you prefer spending time in and why?
I live near Sacré Coeur in Paris. I love my neighborhood, its lovely streets, and its typical French cafés! During summer time, my favorites places are the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and the Canal Saint-Martin: both are nice places to walk or have a rest with friends. The Marais is also a place I like to go for eating, shopping, and to have a look at all the art galleries.
When I have time, I like to go to the Beaubourg Museum because there are always great exhibitions there. The last one I saw was an exhibition of Yayoi Kusama, a contemporary Japanese artist.
What are your favorite shops in Paris?
I like to go in small shops were you can find some pieces or objects you can’t find in other places. I like KREA 99, and the owner of this design shop is really nice. You can find a lot of design objects from Japan, Korea or other countries that are originals and unique. For clothes, I like La Penderie’s, a nice designer shop near my house, and the concept store Aoshida, where they sell exclusive designer pieces.
I also like to walk and discover new shops in the Marais. There are trendy shops there, and I always find some nice pieces and new designers.
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