Each Ateliers Victor commission begins with what Benoît Miniou, a former Hermès executive who developed a fascination with precisely crafted leather goods, calls “a deep but fun interview to decode a client’s wishes”. The result might be a bespoke board game or a desk blotter, a weekend bag (from €20,200 in calfskin to €100,000 for crocodile versions) or a sculpture of a mammoth (€16,000), but all are handmade in Miniou’s Neuilly-Sur-Seine workshop. Here 15 experts in all aspects of leather creation – from handbag design (example first picture, €36,000), to the casting of hardware, to the technical reinforcement of bags using lightweight carbon – create bespoke leather masterpieces.
“We decided to hand-stitch everything because it is much more resistant than other sewing methods, and its inclination is just so much more elegant,” explains Miniou. “Even our trunks are hand-stitched through wood and leather – an incredible savoir-faire that is very physically demanding, and very rare.” Types of leather range from double-tanned calfskin veal leather to lizard and crocodile, plus the softest goatskin is used for lining purses and cases, while most commissions take between one and four months to complete – from 30 hours for a simple purse and up to 250 hours for a complex trunk. Customers visit the Paris suburb workshop (a new Paris store will be opening later this year), or Miniou and his two partners will happily travel to a client’s office, home or hotel – in any city, anywhere in the world - for consultations and ongoing progress reports.
Ateliers Victor produces work for noted French and Italian luxury brands that share the firm’s same exacting standards and an appreciation for leather-making artistry, as well as private clients. No request is too unusual and recent commissions have included bulletproof briefcases, poker sets for an international designer and a travelling diplomat, a leather photo frame for use as a keepsake, and even a small bag (€10,500, second picture) that was deemed the perfect shape for a prima ballerina’s pair of slippers. And accessories aren’t an afterthought at Ateliers Victor: it is one of the only maisons to make damask jewellery – unless a client specifies a preference for gold or brass – for bag closures and nameplates.