Fane Redefines the Minimalist Ideal with Its Sensual Handbag Collection

Words by Isabel Mundigo-Moore

A London-Paris e-mail conversation between Isabel Mundigo-Moore, and Laurie-Anne Braun and Margot Baudequin from Fane.
Photos by Chaumont-Zaerpour – find more of their work here.

What does minimalist mean in fashion anymore? Despite the word’s ubiquity, Paris-based handbag brand, Fane, has contributed a sensual, soft, warm definition of it in its designs. Laurie-Anne Braun and Margot Baudequin launched their collection of minimalist leather bags this year after joining together as a design team in 2017. Already friends, Braun found that her ideal bag wasn’t yet on the market, so she roped Baudequin into joining the project. Whilst working in trend forecasting and at Maryam Nassir Zadeh, they decided to pursue the dream of creating the ideal bag. The result is a small collection with gentle ambitions and despite not being in pursuit of novelty, they are entirely unique.   

Here, the label’s Mie (loaf of bread in French) bag is modelled in a Rodin-inspired pose

Designed in Paris and made in Drôme, in the South of France, the Fane collection consists of three core styles: Mie, Lisse and Bra, and Abri; a small leather pouch. For Braun and Baudequin, sustainability starts with the design practice—their goal is to add limited-edition styles every year to the core collection—and filters, naturally and decisively, into every decision of the brand. I spoke to the duo over e-mail, them in Paris and me in London, to find out more about their process, their aesthetic objective, their interest in the mundane and their sensitive intuition to design. Read our interview and get to know the women behind Fane below. 

Isabel Mundigo-Moore
Laurie-Anne Braun (LA) and Margot Baudequin (M)

Can you first tell me how did you come together to create Fane?

LA: It started in 2017. At some point I was looking for a job in marketing, but I was really missing the creative part, so that’s how the idea of launching a brand came about. From the beginning I knew I wanted to do it with Margot because we have very complementary profiles and personalities.

What’s in your bag? The tote design of Lisse allows for carrying a variety of objects and the easy-access outside pocket is “perfect for holding subway tickets or a telephone”, as stated in the product description on the label’s website

M: When Laurie-Anne started considering launching her own project, making handbags sounded natural because she always had been obsessed with nice, well-made things… handbags in particular. She wanted me to join the project, but since she knows me well, she didn’t ask openly. We just started working together and I naturally got involved. I have to say Laurie-Anne kind of manipulated me! Ha, in a good way of course!

We are obsessed with Margiela and his work for Hermès. We could wear these collections for a lifetime, and they would never get out of style.

From film, to art, to fashion what are your biggest inspirations and influences for Fane?

LA & M: We both developed an obsession for boring aesthetics, we love slow movies and feel inspired by the everyday life theme. Nothing grandiose, we just appreciate good balance and harmony. In terms of fashion, simple and timeless designs are the most inspiring to us. We are obsessed with Margiela and his work for Hermès. We could wear these collections for a lifetime, and they would never get out of style. We are also surrounded by beautiful and talented ladies with an excellent taste, that helps a lot to get fresh ideas and desires!

It’s all in the details! On the left, the Abri pouch, “designed to hold condoms, but is also extremely useful for earphones and other handbag essentials”. On the right, the inside of the Mie style in kaki

Why is it important that the bags are both designed and made in France?

LA & M: We are both based in Paris and tried to keep things as local as possible while creating Fane. Some areas of France are renowned for their historical know-how in leather craftsmanship, so it was obvious for us to look in that direction. In addition to the sustainable and human commitment it implies, it is easier to communicate in the same language for very technical aspects such as prototyping.

After working with multiple factories, we found the right one in the Drôme, in the South of France. It is a small but very well-equipped atelier. The team does wonders, and the communication is easy and fluid. They are also very reactive and flexible for the quantities which was very important for us to start. 

We are not driven by novelty and that might help us to stay focused on what’s most important: pure, simple lines and precise details.

It is so hard to come up with a new shape with such a minimalist approach. How did you achieve this with your bags?

LA & M: First of all, thank you! Your question means we might have achieved our challenge! Simplicity is such a complex thing to deal with…

Bonjour! The pair behind Fane is portrayed here by Juliette Abitbol

We are not driven by novelty and that might help us to stay focused on what’s most important: pure, simple lines and precise details. Our design process always starts with a bag we are dreaming of and cannot find on the market. Then it has to be practical. We erase all the unnecessary details and try to push it to its most functional state. We think the bag should look impeccable alone, and most of all, it has to work perfectly with the silhouette. If we achieve this, then we are 100% satisfied!

How do you incorporate sustainability into your design practice?

M: It starts with the design. We don’t want to create trendy products that we’ll get tired of in six months. We see this first collection as a permanent one that will evolve over time with new leathers and colours. Then we will add new handbag shapes and accessories slowly over time.

LA: As we previously said, we try to be as local as possible. Our handbags are made in France, our leathers and lining come from Italy and Spain. We just sourced an amazing vegetable tanned leather made in France for our next collection. And our packaging is plastic-free and mostly recycled or recyclable. 

We don’t want to create trendy products that we’ll get tired of in six months. We see this first collection as a permanent one that will evolve over time with new leathers and colours.

Minimalist–yet warm–everyday moments with Fane.

I love the idea that timeless style, for you, is sensual. Can you tell me more about sensuality as part of your ideal design?

LA & M: Very often, minimalism is associated with something very radical, stiff and cold. We wanted to create minimalist and timeless designs but with a warmer approach. It translates into the curves and the details of the bags, how flattering it is to the body once worn.

Colour and material are also very important. We used a spazzolato leather for this first collection. Its glazed finish is more subtle than a patent gloss and more sophisticated than smooth leather. We love its touch and how it delicately catches the light.

Why is it important to include a small leather pouch in your first collection?

LA & M: We wanted to create a small object to go with the bags, something not too serious that would also satisfy our quest of discretion. We named it “Abri” which means shelter in French because we imagined it as a means of protection for condoms, headphones or other handbag essentials. It is made with the leather scraps so it’s another way for us to minimize waste.

Very often, minimalism is associated with something very radical, stiff and cold. We wanted to create minimalist and timeless designs but with a warmer approach.

I love your brand imagery in collaboration with Chaumont-Zaerpour. How did you find your brand aesthetic?

LA & M: We wanted to create a strong brand image, yet calm and timeless, which is a subtle balance to find. We try to focus on things we liked 10 years ago and will still like in 10 years. 

We met Philippine Chaumont and Agathe Zaerpour a few years ago because they designed our logo. Then they started photography and it was obvious for us to continue working with them for our first campaign. Basically, we throw ideas into the air and Agathe and Philippine push them further, it’s quite fluid and natural and we really appreciate working with them.

A model holding the Bra bag, named this way because “the gentle curves of this ultra-slim design recall the volume of a bra”

Which bag is your favourite?

LA: Lately I’ve been wearing our Mie bag in page colour most of the time. I’m pretty obsessed with Mie, I think it is the strongest and most recognizable design from this collection. Also, when I get dressed, I always try to add an unexpected element to my outfit. As I mainly wear dark clothes during winter, I like to carry a light colour bag to create an interesting contrast. 

M: Honestly it changes all the time, we feel lucky to have one bag of each and to be able to switch every day. This month I would say I’ve mainly worn our kaki bags and the Bra bag in particular. I love how it stays close to the waist so I can move freely. Because it’s very thin, I can wear it under my coat when I’m running late for an appointment or going to grocery shopping. It’s quite convenient!

Lastly, who would you love to see carrying a Fane bag?

LA & M: A few months ago, we virtually fell in love with an incredible woman! We are totally obsessed with her and if we’re lucky you might discover her in our next campaign. We can’t say her name for now because she doesn’t know what we are up to… 😉

Isabel Mundigo-Moore (@mundigomoore) is a London-based fashion writer and theorist. She is interested in reframing narratives around sustainability, including refocusing materialism on the material, and caring about clothing as an act of love. Read all of Isabel’s pieces here.

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