When is a bag not a bag? When it’s the pop of colour that your outfit was lacking; the hardy vessel with which to tote your treasures; the icebreaking accessory that starts conversations; and a talismanic plus-one, carrying sacred memories of loved ones. Estelle Orilland creates the lot, and then some.

With a résumé that reads like a roll-call of fashion’s finest, the Parisian accessories aficionado has ‘gone solo’, so to speak – taking her expertise from the industry’s biggest maisons and stepping into the limelight with her very own venture in luxury handbags: S T É E.

Catching up with Because on her recent stopover in London, Estelle took us back to where it all started...   

You’ve got quite the CV! Tell us a bit about your background.
I worked in Paris for Chloé for four years, during the time that Phoebe Philo was there. It was an amazing moment – especially for bags! After Chloé, I went to Yves Saint Laurent, under the directorship of Stefano Pilati and the moment of the ‘Muse’ and the ‘Downtown’. From there, I moved to London to work with Stella McCartney; it was an amazing challenge, because they really wanted somebody to restructure the accessories department, and with no leather! We took our inspiration from the brand’s jewellery line, and created the signature ‘Falabella’ bag.

Following this period, for personal reasons, I moved to Frankfurt. A goal of mine was always to create my own brand. I worked as a consultant for Karl Lagerfeld as well as Marni until, after leaving along with the Castiglioni family, my label eventually launched one-and-a-half years ago.

What’s the significance of the name ‘S T É E’?
It comes from my name, ‘Estelle’. I have a five-year-old daughter and, when she started to pronounce my name, she would say it as "Stee! Stee!" The accent over the ‘E’ is a nod to my French side... I’m from Paris, and very proud of that.

Since S T É E already came from my daughter, Rosa, it seemed very natural to take her name and her friends' names for the individual styles within the collections. For me, it’s important that you have something personal as an object.

With regards to that personal touch... What are your earliest, personal memories of fashion?
My grandparents lived in Paris. I think my grandmother was the first person to take me to all of the big stores like Christian Dior and Balenciaga. I grew up half in Germany and half in France, but I would see my grandparents a lot; I was very proud to take friends with me to them, because my grandmother always did a whole tour of Paris, bringing us to all of the beautiful stores and taking you up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. She was definitely a fashionable lady, which is where, I think, a lot of my inspiration comes from.

What was your aim with S T É E?
My mission was to create something that has the feeling of luxury at a good price point – and with a touch of ‘fashion’! I want my bags to be long lasting. I mean, for sure there are trends and there are things that I would want to express and do with my vision, but, at the end of the day, the collection also has to function. It’s a balance of functionality, design and aesthetic.

Colours are a very important point for me. I love mixing and contrasting them, however I also love natural tones. Black is always a bestseller, because everybody needs a black bag.

In terms of your aesthetic and inspiration, where do you look for that?
My husband is an architect, so there’s lots of architectural inspiration for me. One side is very graphic, and the other is cleaner and more minimalist. For the envelope shape, we pull and mould the leather by hand to achieve a three-dimensional structure. I work with a manufacturer in Italy that I have known since I was at Chloé; it’s somebody that I trust and know, and also knows how I work. The collection features around 10 styles, but you’ll see that there are different details and sizes within these... I look to create a bag for every situation!

Click here to discover and shop S T É E. 

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