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Olympia Le-Tan the Housewife

Legendary bookstore Shakespeare and Co. in Paris went hand in hand with the accessory designer’s latest collection

On paper, Shakespeare and Company, the hangout spot of the literary ‘Lost Generation’ and accessories designer Olympia Le-Tan would seem to be the perfect fit. Le-Tan’s embroidered clutches oand miniaudieres featuring book covers from Kerouac to Hemingway have been a storming hit, placing the aesthetic of literature in fashion, all fuelled by Le-Tan’s ‘Made With Love’ work policy. On the occasion of Le-Tan’s A/W 11-12 presentation, there was also a screening of her film, co-directed by Spike Jonze and Simon Cahn, where the opening scene was filmed at Shakespeare & Co. making the presentation even more of an apt pairing.

Le Tan’s new collection, instead of lingering in fiction, heads over to the cookery section, with cookbook titles embroidered onto clutches as well as a few well-loved classics such as Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary or Tennessee William’s Streetcar Named Desir, which Le-Tan imagines a 50s’ housewife might be reading on the side of baking the perfect soufflé. The short film co-directed by Jonze and Cahn used simple stop-start animation to go with Le-Tan’s felt embroidery work, telling a succinct yet poignant tragic love story between character of two books. We spoke to Le-Tan to find out more about her role as a money-making homemaker as well as her collaboration with Jonze.
Dazed Digital: What’s the theme for your latest collection of literary-themed accessories?
Olympia Le-Tan:
Last season it was The End of the World and this season, it’s back at home. It’s about the modern day housewife, which in my ideal world would be aesthetically, the 50s housewife – knows how to cook, knows how to sew - but still has an independent life and does work. Basically I’m the ideal modern housewife because I’ve turned a housewife activity into a money-making job.
DD: How did you get together with Spike Jonze to make the film?
Olympia Le-Tan:
Basically I met him through a friend and I had some embroideries with me as I was meeting with Opening Ceremony to show them. He said he loved them and wrote to me me asking how he could get one, asking if he could buy or trade for one. So I asked “Sure, can I trade one for a video of them?” He said “Yeah, let’s do it!” I met up with him with my friend Simon (Cahn). Simone co-directed the film with Spike in Paris and we filmed the live scene here (at Shakespeare and Co.) He saw the books and said he wanted to have stuff happen between the different characters in the book. We wrote the story together and it’s a love story between the skeleton and the girl.  
DD: How far do you think you can take the idea of embroidering book clutches?
Olympia Le-Tan:
I started with the books and thought it was going to be a one-off thing. Then people really liked them so I thought I would do a few more books each season and gradually go towards something else. This season we added totes, a milk carton and some headbands so it is growing bigger each time.