There are a happy few women who seem to manage to combine a big job with raising a large family, pursuing a high-profile social life and always looking gorgeous with enviable ease. When two such women get together on a project, they form a pretty irresistible combination. A prime example is the team of Natalia Vodianova and Carole Tessier: the former a Russian model who famously went from market trader to the top catwalks, married a British aristocrat (she is now with the son of Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH), had four children and started her own influential charity, the latter a beautiful blonde French socialite, mother of six daughters and designer of both luxury, rock-chick-worthy accessories under her Preciously Paris brand and, with her husband Rémi, the interiors of superyachts and Mediterranean villas.
The pair met several years ago through shared heady social contacts and Tessier was touched by Vodianova’s Naked Heart Foundation, which raises money for underprivileged Russian children. Tessier’s hand-embroidered and beaded clutch bags, often based on pop-art or punk designs and made in collaboration with artists, are glitterati hits and she gave several to Vodianova for the auction at her fundraising Love Ball in Monaco two years ago. “As a mother I felt I had to do something, and Natalia is so involved in her charity it just seemed natural,” says Tessier. “So we decided to do a wider collaboration, with a beautiful limited-edition design that could be marketed through a few top stores. If it’s a success we can add new designs, so the idea will continue to make money for the foundation.”
The bag, made in Paris, is crafted from Tessier’s signature Japanese denim, in a soft pearl grey with silver Lurex. It is hand-embroidered and beaded by couture petites mains with a delicate design of tattoo-style red hearts (first picture), its intricate border taken, at Vodianova’s suggestion, from a traditional Slavic pattern. The back (second picture) is as beautiful as the front – it just doesn’t have the hearts. The lining is lambskin in red, the foundation’s signature colour, and the removable metal chain is expensively weighty. Only 200 have been made, available exclusively from Thursday November 12 at Colette in Paris and on Tessier’s website, and at Le Bon Marché and the Nine in the Mirror website from Monday November 23. They cost €2,650 and come in a beautiful presentation box. All profits go to the foundation.