Set in a discreet, chic courtyard in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the showroom of handbag brand Iris Noble is a study in exquisitely made, customised bags crafted using fine French calf and lambskins, as well as assorted exotic embellishments.
Born in New York to Jamaican parents, founder Jennifer Noble studied in Italy where she was photographed by the likes of Patrick Demarchelier and Paolo Roversi before being asked by Karl Lagerfeld and Gianfranco Ferré to walk their runways. It was her far-flung travels and immersion in the worlds of fashion and French savoir faire that motivated Noble to begin designing beautiful minaudières, baguettes and shoulder bags.
A visit to the showroom reveals Noble’s six bag styles (from €3,000 to €18,000) – each named after her children, sisters or her mother – as well as an array of leather swatches in tones that range from muted stone and black to vibrant greens and textured blues, as well as a subtle lilac used for sumptuous linings. Among the styles on view, the Lisa clutch in crocodile with feather detailing is lined in suede and features hand-sewn credit card and phone holders, as well as a pocket for keys and cash. The Lynn baguette has an adjustable strap that transforms it from an evening purse to a shoulder bag, while the Elijah shopper is versatile and well-suited for travel.
Once hues and finishes are selected by the client, craftsmanship takes place in master leathersmith Robert Mercier’s studio on the outskirts of Paris. Most bags are completed within six to eight weeks, though rare skins and materials can add to the production timeline.
With visits arranged by appointment only, customers are assured undivided attention and the benefit of the team’s impeccable eye for detail. Noble herself also delights in working with clients “to create a piece that is entirely their own, right down to the number of phone pockets or the handle height,” says the designer. “I hope that together we’ll create a bag for a lifetime.”