Throughout history, creative individuals have flocked to Paris in search of inspiration to refine and evolve their craft. Monet, Picasso, Dali, Josephine Baker, Langston Hughes, Miles Davis, and most recently, Lenny Kravitz. Lured by the city’s beauty, cultural diversity and widely supported art scene, all types of artists – from writers and painters to musicians and photographers – make Paris home for an inexplicable sense of creative freedom and energy unlike anything they’ve ever felt before.
Designers and stylists also reap the benefits of being in a city where fashion is a crucial component of everyday life and where they may be surrounded by some of the world’s greatest and most influential fashion powerhouses. It’s easy to understand why emerging designers would want to introduce their collections in one of the fashion capitals of the world to the savviest and most discerning of consumers.
Unfortunately, much of what is available in the way of unique, quality apparel and accessories will max out the average woman’s budget. Enter Kasia Dietz- a former ad girl and authentic New Yorker with an unrelenting passion for design and an infectious love for travel. The Kasia Dietz collection of bags and totes is affordable, wearable art with motifs inspired by her travels, minimalist art and 70’s prints designed by her mother; truly one-of-a-kind creations. I sat down with Kasia at a local café for an espresso and a tête-à-tête to find out more about how she got into designing, her recent re-launch and the hurdles she has come across bringing her brand to Paris.
Lindsey Tramuta: You were an art buyer in the fast-paced world of advertising in NYC. What motivated you to launch a side project, more specifically, a line of bags?How is designing and producing your pieces in Paris different than in NYC? Any specific challenges that surprised you?
Kasia Dietz: In NYC I found a manufacturer through a friend, showed him my samples and began production. I had no prior knowledge or experience of the garment industry, but soon found my way. In Paris, quite a different story. My greatest barrier aside from the language, is the closed nature of the people and the difficulty in making the necessary contacts. Many an afternoon I spent in this search, following the hum of sewing machines, and often being met with a ‘ce n’est pas possible’. While in NYC, it seemed that everything ‘is possible’. These ‘adventures’ between the garment districts of Montmartre and the Sentier provoked me to create my own patterns and samples, and I even began cutting fabric at home. Finally, with a lot of persistence and a little luck, I found the manufacturer I was in search of, and production began, leading to my new collections.
In terms of designing, since living in Paris I have expanded my collections to reflect the need for an all-day fashion savvy yet practical handbag. Additionally, I welcomed the international fabric selection which suits my most recent travel tastes
LT: Paris fashion is known for being on the more discreet side of the color spectrum – lots of black, white, navy, beige, gray with only hints of color. What is your strategy for attracting the French market to a more vibrant and colorful line of accessories?
KD: I have noticed that Parisian women make a statement with their accessories, carefully chosen much like a work of art. In this manner they create their individual style. My handbags and accessories definitely draw attention while serving to compliment a more discreet color palette. My strategy is to appeal to this fashionable elite, considering each bag is one-of-a-kind. Additionally, the reversibility factor tailors to an eccentric side as well as to the discreet side of a ‘Parisian’ woman.
LT: Within only a couple weeks of re-launching, your bags can already be found on the UK-based online boutique Not On the High Street and Swelle Boutique. What are your plans for further distribution?
KD: I’m thrilled to already have so much interest in my new collections. My plans are to continue selling in major cities around the world as well as expanding distribution to smaller towns and beach resorts frequented by an international fashion-savvy clientèle. After all, it’s life in a big city combined with my affinity for small villages that serve as inspiration for my designs.
LT: Out of all the bags in your latest collection, which best reflects this Parisian chapter in your life?
KD: Since I fell in love with Paris many years ago, I have always been drawn to the right bank for it’s history and elegance. I may very well cross the river in time, but for the moment ‘rive droite’ from the Paris Collection best represents this chapter of my life. Perhaps a ‘le haute marais’ bag would make an even stronger statement!
Kasia Dietz’s fabulous totes and bags are available for sale at shop.ParisienSalon.com.