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Longchamp's renowned history of collaboratively designing with contemporary artists continues today with four new Le Pliage® styles from André Saraiva. Reimagined in recycled materials, the capsule collection is adorned with three variations in pink and blue of the artist's iconic Mr. A and Mrs. A graffiti sketches. Entirely unique and individually numbered, each piece in the collection of 200 is an original work of art to be carried every day. "Longchamp was a very amazing partner," Saraiva told Whitewall. "They gave me carte blanche to work on their iconic bags."
To elaborate, Saraiva and Longchamp's artistic director, Sophie Delafontaine, shared how the collaboration came to fruition, what characteristics they have in common, and what they're working on next.
WHITEWALL: The new Longchamp collection is quite colorful. Why did you choose these colors?
ANDRÉ SARAIVA: Pink is my color, blue is my color, and green works well with pink and blue. Colors are very important to me. They bring warmth and feelings. Especially my affinity for pink goes way back. Pink has always been my favorite. In graffiti, it was neither common nor popular. It was considered gay. So, generally, pink spray cans were the ones left standing on the shelves in stores. That left plenty for me to steal. Pink also has an advantage over all the other colors—it mixes well with all of them, it makes everything harmonious.
WW: How do you feel your work translates from the street to the textile world?
AS: For me, it is kind of the same thing. To paint on a wall or to paint on a piece of fabric or on a bag - they are all my canvases. It is all about my drawing, on any surface whatsoever, have the art spread around, and make it accessible for all.
WW: What do you feel collaboration brings to your work?
AS: Collaborating expands my access to people, and makes my art and my character Mr. A accessible for everyone.
WW: What's your favorite style in the collection and why?
AS: I love all the styles, they represent different feelings through different expressions and colors. There is one style for everyone.
WW: What does Longchamp mean to you?
AS: Longchamp is a classic & timeless French house - It was always my dream to work with them.
WW: What are you working on this spring/summer, or in 2022?
AS: I’m so excited that this August my book A Graffiti Life will be published by Rizzoli. We worked on it for almost 5 years, and put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it. I hope you will like it.
WW: SophieLongchamp has had a long history of collaborating with artists. Why André now?
SOPHIE DELAFONTAINE: André is someone we have wanted to collaborate with for a very long time so this collaboration feels like it was meant to be. Years ago, we found André’s signature Mr. A graffiti on the doors within one of our Parisian showrooms when we moved in. We loved it so much, we kept the door, so it’s very exciting that Mr. A now adorns our Le Pliage!
WW: Do you feel he embraces the same spirit Longchamp does? What do you have in common?
SD: I certainly do. There is a playfulness and positivity to André’s artistic sensibility that is similar to Longchamp’s. His graffiti is bold and graphic and the perfect complement to the ease and simplicity of our Le Pliage.
WW: Years ago, one of your first Paris showrooms was a rented space near Place de la Concorde, and when you moved in, you discovered André's Mr. A character on the back of the door. You left the showroom but kept the door. Where is it now?
SD: As for many art pieces made by artists, we kept it and sent it to our workshops in the Loire Valley so that the people there can enjoy it on a daily basis.
WW: This collaboration sees many classic Longchamp styles adorned with André's touch, including the Le Pliage bag, which has surpassed many trends over the years. What do you feel makes this bag so timeless?
SD: While the Le Pliage is unique and recognizable, there is also a beautiful simplicity to it. It is also the perfect canvas for artists like André, and the artists we have partnered with through the years, so they are able to reinvent and reinvigorate Le Pliage, breathing new life into this iconic style time and time again.
WW: The 200 small Le Pliage bags are made of recycled polyester canvas. How is the brand thinking about sustainability today?
SD: Sustainability has always been important to Longchamp, and now, more than ever, we are committed to reducing our environmental impact. Last year, we set the goal of transitioning the entire Le Pliage line from virgin to recycled materials by the end of 2022, and we are pleased to say that we are on track to fulfill that commitment.
WW: How did the pandemic impact your view of Longchamp?
SD: The pandemic put many things into perspective and tested us all, but Longchamp has always stood for quality craftsmanship, durability, functionality, and Parisian flair and none of this has changed. It is now even more relevant to our audience. We want to continue to create beautiful products that will equip customers wherever their day or travels take them.
WW: What is the brand working on next?
SD: We have exciting and energetic new interpretations of the Le Pliage, with a new approach on sustainability, in addition to our Fall collection of ready-to-wear and handbags that we’re excited to share. But you’ll have to stay tuned to see it all unfold!