Faure Le Page (say "for-hay le pah-je") was the master gunsmith to the French court, with roots dating back to 1717. Every French king since Louis XV carried its ceremonial swords and pistols. And during the first and second French Revolutions, it earned its place in history by siding with the masses, supplying them with guns and ammunition.
But in the early 20th century, as guns faded from daily life in France, the brand shifted to leather hunting accessories for a niche clientele. Its vintage creations, like Napoleon's vermeil sabre, became the treasures of museums and acution houses. And it was in those settings that FLP caught the attention of Augustin de Buffevent, now its artistic director.
"I was told Faure Le Page has a fantastic heritage and it was high time it made a comeback. I flew back to Paris to learn more about it, and as I dug, I kept finding diamonds," de Buffevent (pictured above) says.
The then vice-president of Christian Dior became so smitten that he quit his job and acquired FLP in 2011. The following year, he moved its lone store in Paris from the Palais Royale — "a fantastic location, for the 19th century", he says — to Rue Cambon and began reinventing it as a modern fashion accessories label backed by 300 years of history.
"Fashion is part of the essence of Faure Le Page. Even within weaponry, ornaments vary a lot from one period to another. Since day one, the brand has worked on leather and bags. In fact, leather goods originate from the hunting and gun industries, which made bags for carrying weapons and personal effects," he says.
Combining this know-how with a fresh, at-times-quirky aesthetic, the house began producing canvas totes (now its most sought-after product), messenger bags, clutches and handbags. It also maintains a selection of lifestyle items such as hip flasks, foldable camping stools and even leather animal figurines.
Nods to the house's heritage are everywhere. The fish-scale or ecaille motif printed on the Daily Battle and Carry On totes were once on its guns; the Calibre 21 and 27 handbags have instantly recognisable pistol-shaped pouchettes; and the products' palettes are largely based on weaponry — the steely grey of gunmetal and the walnut brown of rifle butts.
To ensure the bags are as tough as the cartridge cases and hunting satchels they're descended from, de Buffevent says prototypes are "tortured" — pulled, folded tugged, left under extreme humidity — for months to see how they hold up. It takes at least a year for a prototype to go from design to market.
Despite FLP's rising cachet, the brand has retained its hard-to-get appeal by limiting the number of its stores to just nine worldwide — three in Paris, the rest around Asia — with Singapore's boutique at #02-12F Ngee Ann City being the latest.
With a facade inspired by a pavilion in the Palace of Versailles and interiors that evoke a lush garden, the store in Singapore is set to distinguish itself from other high-end brands while mirroring the country's Garden City character. It will carry specially created pieces that won't be available at other stores for some months, and selected items from the permanent collection will be offered here in precious skins like crocodile leather.
De Buffevent says: "Our motto, 'Amed for Seduction', is a link between our heritage and who we want to be. We put into our creations a bit of surprise, humour and excitement. If you don't have those ingredients, it's going to be tough to seduce."
Faure Le Page's accessories (medals, pompoms, belts and eyewear) are $60 - $690; small leather goods, $350 - $1,190; and bags, $690 - $15,390.
Photos: Faure Le Page
This article was first published on Her World's August 2019 issue.