10 October 2019
In 2014, Clarisse Virot, who still has two S and one E in her first name, is on holidays in Bali. As she didn’t find what she wanted on the market, she asked a local craftsman to make the bag of her dreams. The tale starts, her name becomes a brand, loses two letters and five years later, Claris Virot is the undisputed reference of python bags, and the bag created in Bali is still her best-seller. Concerned with the details, materials, finishes and people she works with who are still in Indonesia, Claris talks about all her lives at La Grande Boutique.
Claris Virot. I am a life lover and a Jack-of-all-trades! What scared me the most in life was having a job that included an office and a fixed schedule, so I created my own freedom. My father was the manager of a hotel. Carine Roitfled and her husband were among her clients, I was 14 years old at the time, I was the babysitter of her daughter Julia who was 3 years old and I found Carine’s job awesome. She was a journalist at ELLE magazine. It gave me the taste of fashion. So, I found internships in magazines and then I worked for the brand Kookaï and that’s where I really understood how a brand worked. I worked on shopping, style, the press. I’ve never been afraid to start a business, to fail sometimes, I even had a restaurant for three years in Courchevel, then I needed to have a more stable life and to build a family, and I was missing to work in fashion, so I went back to Paris.
Claris Virot. During a trip in Bali, I had a bag made for me by local artisans. My real pleasure was to find manufacturers in the street and bring them a raw material. As I did not exactly find the bag that I liked, I imagined my ideal bag: it was the birth of Charly, it is the name of my daughter. I had it done in yellow and red. Very quickly, I wore the yellow and at least a dozen girls asked me where I had bought it. And a friend of mine who was a businessman, present at that time, told me, “Wait, there’s something going on!” He became serious when we got back in Paris and that’s it! He became my associate.
Claris Virot. I would say at first contemporary, I would also say hippie chic because I like the combination of both words, and then practical. I want my bags to be as practical as possible. One of the reasons for the success of the Charly is its practicality!
Claris Virot. Yes, absolutely. People want to be able to consume, afford to change often and I want my bags to reach more people. The luxury bag is reserved for an elite and I liked the idea that my bag could be worn by a lot of people as it is affordable.
Claris Virot. Above all, I wanted to democratize that specific leather that suffered from an elitist and inaccessible image. I told myself that I wanted a great value for money and this material gives so many possibilities, it’s a dream for a designer.
Claris Virot. The python I use is completely handcrafted, and it’s a very easy material to work with. It can be painted, the effect of the python can be colored in a very interesting way. The plain are dyed the same way that the leather is, but those I call “painted” are really hand painted by artisans. It is an extremely resistant material, and few people know it! I am not a very attentive person to my personal belongings, and trust me, they resist everything! Rain like sand …
Claris Virot. We had many friends in common without knowing each other, and one day we met at a party. We had a crush on each other and in five minutes we told each other that we had to create a bag together! It was born very spontaneously. The next day, they were at the shop, they gave me lots of inspirations, in terms of colors, details, clasp etc. This is a bag that I could not have created by myself, it looks like them a lot, it was a real pleasure to share these moments with them, they are so passionate.