This is Eve Damon: “I have always wanted to own a small shop in France ever since I was little. I love French words. My grandmother used to read me French children’s books at tea time every day. When I was older I went with a small suitcase to Paris to study design and stayed for a while. Igot distracted and flew away, had a baby and now I have my little French shop on Etsy”.
Designer Eve has lived in Florence, USA, Germany and London but she has a penchant for all things French and translates her love of French style to the gorgeous bags that she produces. She made her first one in 2010 and sold it to the founder of Etsy where she now has her shop – Damon. The Good Life France wanted to know more about Eve Damon’s love of France and the inspiration for her designs…
Tell us a little bit more about you and where you’re from, how you ended up in London…
I am originally from northern Germany, born into a very well read and artistic family.
From a very young age I was taught the value of craftsmanship, literature and art. I learned through the words and actions of my grandparents, often visiting museums and galleries. My French grandmother was extremely elegant, an arm chair traveller who kept strict tea time hours with the most exquisite small petit four selection, she only dressed in French fashions favouring the colour chocolate brown. She used to model a selection of handpicked clothes by her personal shopper for us as we sat in a circle to comment or applaud. My grandfather and I rode our bikes daily to visit artisans and craftsmen’s ateliers. He owned a gallery in which he exhibited and supported Dutch artists. He had a photographic memory and was a vivid traditional storyteller. He as well as my grandmother believed strongly in craftsmanship and had a love and appreciation for all luxury. Our chocolates came from Holland. Wine was sent to us from vineyards in France. Crates of apples from the little lands in Germany and fashions from France.
My American father having had a very different up bringing but through his traditional American education passed down the same mind-set about life and its values. He is a computer programmer and I must have inherited my nerdy side from him as well as my hard headed way of striving in my work. I am a bit of a computer geek! My mom is a dreamer and artist; she will always be the soft side of my heart.
When I was 14, my brother Jonas, gave me a drawing for my birthday of a house with a shop in Paris. It was extremely detailed right down to the shutters. He was 11 years old and I remember that he told me that this was my little French shop and that I shall have it one day. I knew that I would one day get there.
I left home at the age of 16 and found myself two years later in the Marais in Paris with like-minded people. I studied haute couture, industrial design and photography. I was lucky and privileged to work with great companies like Chanel, J. Mendel, Goyard, Hermès, Prada and Giorgio Armani. I started working in design and production in the good old days when smoking was still allowed and a casual drink during lunch time in the ateliers. I did pricing and buying, moved on to selling and VIP service. I was lucky to have worked with some of the greats. I learned my lessons and travelled a lot while working for some of the best fashion companies in the world. But I dreamed all the while of my French shop.
What is it about Paris that inspires you most?
I would say the contrasts of the cultural differences. The beauty in the multi-cultural human blend of people food and creation. I love the old classic Parisian style of course with a dash of Alaia please.
I adore the clichés – all of them!
You can meet people that are true gifts of God with enormous courage and determination – telling you their life story over a glass of red wine in a café. I love the celebration of woman. The love for all things female. Nothing moves me more than a street musician who will play “Lady in Red” for you just because he remembers that you liked it last time. Even though Paris is a world class metropolis it has a small country side feel to it … people remember. The best thing is to stroll though Paris after 02.00. Paris is all yours – it is wildly romantic.
I think that all is possible in Paris and all is forgiven at the same time.
It is a very human city …
What is it about France that inspires you most?
That with politeness a sense of elegance follows. For me a simple “Bonjour Madame” makes you feel so French. I am in awe of French craftsmanship – its history and dedication to detail. No matter if it is in fashion, or food or anything else. I hold my hat up to the French for being the true masters in luxury goods. Then there is the French language which is a constant love affair …
If you could have a dream come true/money was no object – where in France would you live? What sort of house?
I need to choose? For me and my family in Paris, Provence and Deauville – Paris in a 2 story duplex in the Marais in the Rue Beaubourg; any 12 bedroom stone house surrounded by lavender fields will do in Provence and a small modern studio overlooking the sea in Deauville will also do nicely!
What inspires your designs for your bags?
I like uncomplicated, unstructured, unlined. Soft and washable bags. The bags I make and use myself have to be lightweight dressmaker bags, not luggage style bags, knitted in fabric or reused and remade leather. Bags that do not rival and go well with others. I myself pair them up with my Chanel, Goyard or Alaia bag. I have been known to wear 3 bags at the same time. My totes can fold up so small that it will fit into my beloved wallet on a chain by Chanel.
I am very inspired by French words signatures and logos – and have a thing for limited editions or one offs. I am for the slow fashion movement in producing fashion more as an indulgence and as something special. I am inspired by objets trouves and the German artist Joseph Beuys, by the materials in themselves as well as how they will look 50 years from now. I think strongly about how I would stand to them in the future and if my ancestors would have approved.
My hand painted line is a very personal one – I need courage to start one – I do not plan them out or use a guide to keep me in line… it is a signature of my hand and eye – never perfect – but it has to be just right to me – the thickness of the line – the feeling of a word.
My MADE IN PARIS bag has the strongest meaning to me as well as the MADE IN FRANCE. Working for luxury labels I was always asked if it was made in France or elsewhere. France in itself is one of the strongest marketing tools out there. It inspires confidence and a sense of luxury.