Introducing the Parisian label making fetish chic
Brand spanking new
Okay, I get it. Bondage and BDSM is not everyone's thing. And if it is, it's not necessarily something you want to wear on your sleeve, so to speak. However, in the hands of Parisian design duo domestique, the threat of vulgarity somehow disappears in rich, patrician hues of supple, expertly-crafted leather pieces that get the pulse going in the way that only a dangerous new love interest (sartorial or otherwise) can do.
"It's about the legacy of French eroticism; of intimacy versus your public behaviour," explains Simon Delacour, one half of the duo, on the ethos of the brand. "We can be inspired by a paddle from a Pigalle sex shop, [Paris' red light district] and if I do it the way I've learnt to work with leather, we can make it as an objet d'art," adds the other half, Bastien Beny.
It's important to note here, the boys know a thing or two about making luxury goods. For Beny, after studying under the likes of Celine Toledano, (Sonia Rykiel, Karl Lagerfeld) and Stephane Warnier, (Hermès) at Paris' prestigious Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, a chance opportunity to impress the great-great-granddaughter of founder Emile Hermès, (also the co-artistic director of the maison) led to swift employment. Before graduation, Beny was honing his craft in the Hermès Petit H ateliers which, for the uninitiated, is a sort of Willy Wonka laboratory for the brand where highly skilled artisans work with leftover materials from the Hérmes manufacturing process and transform them into rare, artful objects. For example, an orange bookcase in the shape of a squirrel realised in Togo calfskin (priced around $US112,400) or a tablet case in alligator and calfskin for $US8250 or a buffalo leather sailboat for around $US8250.
Meanwhile, business partner/bro Delacour, studied fashion design in Paris and fine arts in Milan before moving to London for a stint in the Alexander McQueen studio. There, he unwittingly worked on the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress. "My boss called me on the day of the wedding and said, ‘You know that thing we were working on? I couldn’t tell you but it was for Kate Middleton.'" Returning to Paris, Delacour perfected his skills at Beynat et Janniaux, a leather goods atelier for Hermès, Chanel and Goyard amongst others, before joining forces with Beny on domestique.
Following an, ahem, personal request for a 'chic' paddle, Beny created the first domestique piece, a feather-shaped paddle and the range grew from there. "We are reinterpreting the essentials of BDSM," explains Beny. Seven essential products such as the choker, the whip, the cuffs and nipple ring pins are all fashioned in the most discreet - and least icky - of ways. Whether or not its your bag, the pieces are undeniably beautiful - and surprisingly elegant.
There was a myth in the 80s and 90s that if a man noticed a pair of Agent Provocateur underwear left unguarded in the bedroom of a sexual conquest, he would steal them as a sort of trophy and it's easy to see domestique products becoming a similarly coded 'club'. "If you go into someone's bedroom and see the domestique feather it could be interpreted as decoration. But those who know, know. Like hiding in plain sight," explains Delacour. "My grandmother doesn't even know what I'm doing. Even if I send her the lookbook, she just thinks, 'Hey nice jewellery. Can I get a sample?'"
In their first year as a label, domestique has managed to secure international stockists, top billing at Paris Fashion Week's exclusive Premiere Classe trade show and a shout out from Kris Jenner. Up next, a collaboration with ANDAM Fashion Award winner, menswear brand AVOC, to appear on the runway at Paris Men's Fashion Week on January 20th. And after that?
"You'll have to wait and see," says Beny. "We like surprising people."
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