There are bookbags and then there are Olympia Le-Tan’s book bags. You know them when you see them. They’re the minaudières frequently spotted in the front row and on red carpets that resemble actual paper books — complete with hand-embroidered front covers replicating the literary classics. Like The Catcher in the Rye. Dracula. Valley of the Dolls. Moby Dick. And cookbooks, too.
Since her eponymous collection launched in 2010, Le-Tan has expanded the initial conceit into a whole lifestyle brand, including ready to wear and other handbag styles, that’s still hinged on the witty and bookish. And this month, the London-born, Paris-based designer adds to her accomplishments with her very first book — an actual book, that is — published by Rizzoli. The Story of O.L.T., the name for which is an amusing nod to Anne Desclos’ Story of O, is as charming as the designer is — more a scrapbook, filled with personal images and candid captions (see above slideshow) than a catalogue of designs or autobiography. Here, some fun facts we learned about Le-Tan.
1. Le-Tan may have loved books — she was in an English-speaking book club as a teenager in Paris — and may have built a career from them, but she was, in her own words, “terrible at school.”
2. She interned at Chanel, under designer Gilles Dufour, then-assistant to Karl Lagerfeld. When Dufour decamped to Balmain, she followed. Also on her CV: DJ stints at Paris’ famed Le Baron nightclub.
3. In 2011, she designed a “Milk Box” bag in the shape of an actual milk carton.
4. For her Fall 2015 runway show, her father hand-painted all the tights the models wore.
5. And that father? He is the legendary illustrator, Pierre Le-Tan, a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, Vogue, W and many others. Read Tory Daily’s interview with him here.