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Cover Girl

Olympia Le-Tan makes her deliciously literary clutch bags in the shapes of first edition novels

As her father was an avid book collector, Olympia Le-Tan grew up in a house where the walls were covered in beautiful books, sparking off her own passion to collect old novels herself. She was inspired by the first edition covers of her favourite classics such as 'The Catcher in The Rye', 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', 'Moby Dick', '1984', Nabokov's 'Lolita', 'The Misfits', as well as a selection of police novels by French author Georges Simenon. There are 21 different book covers, all limited editions of 16 pieces (her lucky number). Ironically named after the Bo Diddly song, the collection is titled "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover". Le-Tan decides that of course you can...

Dazed Digital: How do you choose which books to turn into bags?
Olympia Le-Tan: At first I chose my favourite books and while researching the original covers, I discovered other amazing ones which I had to make.

DD: Do you use the original cover images of the books or do you rework them?
Olympia Le-Tan: All the covers are the first edition covers of the books. I tried to reproduce them as close to the original as possible in embroidery.

DD: Have you designed bags before? How did you decide what materials to use?
Olympia Le-Tan: I've been making bags for about ten years, but this is the first time I've made a whole collection. Before it was a few pieces here and there, for my friends, and some small editions for Browns or for Colette. I always use Liberty print for the lining, and felt appliqué and silk thread for the embroideries. The base is cotton canvas which I chose because there was such a great variety of colours.

DD: Will they always be classics or do you think there is room for modern stories too?
Olympia Le-Tan: Mainly classics, as unfortunately the covers of books nowadays are not as nice as they used to be.

DD: Which one is your favourite?
Olympia Le-Tan: 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter'. It's my favourite bag and also my favourite book.

Olympia Le-Tan's collection is available now at Colette, Paris and soon Browns, London