Things V Love: Pellegrino Paris

In an exclusive interview with V, Renaud Pellegrino discusses his early beginnings and the ever-evolving function of modern handbags.

From the likes of Emma Roberts, Avril Lavigne, and Saweetie—celebrities and fashion insiders from all over the world can’t get enough of the whimsical creations of Renaud Pellegrino for Pellegrino Paris. The master artist first landed onto the fine leather goods scene back in the late 1960s, designing handbags for couturier Yves Saint Laurent through the early ’80s. Branching off into his own label years later, Monsieur Pellegrino opened his very first shop in 1983 where he created the ultimate “It Bag” titled The Cardinal, treasured by handbag lovers from all around the globe. Fast forward 35 years later, Pellegrino Paris continues to create one-of-a-kind handbags—most recently launching their ultra-chic FW20 collection.

Below, discover a Q+A with V’s Kevin Ponce about the origins of Pellegrino Paris and how imagination and innovation have carried him throughout the last several decades.

Kevin Ponce: Rather than creating lifeless bags—you’ve produced mini sculptures. Alongside being a craftsman, to me, you are also an artist. Where did this sense of creativity and taste originate from? Is this something that you’ve always had since your younger years?

Renaud Pellegrino: I guess some children like to entertain or do sports. As a child, I was a dreamer—I still am a dreamer. Whenever I can take time for myself to escape and explore my imagination, I seize the opportunity!  Being able to build a very rich imagination always gave me creative inspirations. I grew up in the south of France on the French Riviera where color is ever-present throughout the year from the bright magenta and purple bougainvillea to the golden sunsets, the teal crystal seawater, and regular explosions of metallic colors of fireworks across a marine blue sky, and I guess this explosion of multiple colors remained in my brain. Every time I’m asked what my favorite color is, the answer is Fireworks. I absolutely have always been very creative from a young age and this, alongside memories of the Riviera, has never left me.

KP: You’ve worked closely with Yves Saint Laurent—designing bags with him for over a decade. What is something that you’ve learned from your experience with Monsieur Saint Laurent that you carried with you all these years? Are there any fond memories that you remember from your time with him? 

RP: I worked with Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent, as well as for Ungaro, Guy Laroche, Harry Winston, Baccarat, and a few other of the greats to name a few. My time spent working with Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent lasted longer because I worked in supporting his vision for eight years. It was a vastly rich experience working for a deeply talented man who taught me a lot. It’s hard to pick a fond memory, per se, as our relationship was a professional one. However, one memory that will always remain is that from the moment our (professional) relationship began until his passing, I received a hand-drawn greeting card from Monsieur Saint Laurent every year. He had the sensitivity and manners to always remember his former employees and supports. This proves more than anything that he was a great man.

KP: It’s been over 35 years since the opening of your own boutique—what are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout your extensive career?

RP: We just recently celebrated our 35th anniversary both in Paris and in New York at Bergdorf Goodman. We had two fantastic events. In such a long run, you have the chance of learning a lot of lessons. Most of all, you have the chance of learning from the mistakes that you might have made. I believe the most important lesson is remaining true to oneself. Only you know where you want your brand to be, how it should look, be handled, and communicated. Products come and go, but having a faithful clientele is very precious.

Renaud Pellegrino

KP: What advice do you have for any young or rising designers entering the industry?

RP: I guess this adapts to any industry, but to me, what always resonates is hard work. Everything that I have accomplished came from working very hard from a young age. I am absolutely confident that it is still a fundamental value. It might resonate as cliché but designers need to stick to their “gut feeling”. This is something I have always followed throughout my career.

KP: In what ways do you think the dynamic of women and their handbags has changed/progressed in today’s day and age?

RP: An important thing to know about me is that I tend to fixate on movement and the attitudes women carry in their individual movement. Across the last three decades of my brand existence, the function has evolved for bags. When I’m walking in the streets, I am instantly captivated by women’s handbags but most of all by the way they carry them. In order to stay relevant, we need to remain precise on how the world evolves. Even though I’m not a specialist in very practical bags, per se, it is important for me to be in cohesion with every gesture that comes with each woman across each generation.

KP: What type of woman (or anyone really!) do you imagine carrying your pieces? 

RP: Throughout the existence of Pellegrino Paris, I have had the chance to see incredible talents and personalities wearing my bags – from the late Lauren Bacall and Catherine Deneuve to Paloma Picasso and Queen Rania of Jordan, as well as Emma Roberts and Cyndi Lauper more recently. I value every single client I have had the pleasure to service. Simply, I imagine a woman of elegance and attitude is a perfect fit for Pellegrino Paris.

 Personally, I idealize a gesture and not necessarily a woman. Haute Couture requires the idealization of an attitude. The accessory will provoke the attitude; and I always try to provoke it! An accessory can be pleasing and be suitable for all women. This is what pleases me because elegance is not about body or shape. Elegance is in the detail and as you will see, Pellegrino Paris bags are always very rich in detail.

KP: Was there any particular theme or inspiration for the current Fall/Winter collection?

RP: This collection was inspired by New York City and the creation of objects which will reflect the city lights. I worked across various stones and crystals that would capture, flash, and echo everything from the streetlights to marquee lights across the theatres and the billboards and screens surrounding Times Square. This collection is a glamorous one for a woman with a sophisticated sensibility. The collection theme is “Opulence of Magical Nights.”

Discover a preview of the SS21 collection below:

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