In the realm of fashion, «quiet luxury» has taken center stage, representing an enduring and understated approach to style. For those who appreciate this aesthetic, brands like Serapian Milano have become notable for their unique, yet discreet, handbags and accessories.
Serapian has been quietly making its mark in the market, expanding its reach while staying true to its small-batch craftsmanship. FashionNetwork.com had the privilege of speaking with CEO Maxime Bohe during the launch of the brand’s new retail space on Madison Avenue—an important milestone as it marks Serapian’s inaugural standalone store in the U.S. market.
Nestled between 65th and 66th streets in a former A. Lange & Söhne watch store, this Madison Avenue boutique meticulously recreates the ambiance of Serapian’s temporary location on Paris’ Rue de la Paix, which made its debut in 2022. The store has been carefully outfitted with fixtures, display cases, furniture, and artworks transported from Paris, capturing the essence of the brand’s artisanal heritage. Inside the store’s Bespoke Salotto, visitors have the opportunity to witness a Milanese craftsman named Paolo meticulously crafting Serapian’s iconic Mosaico weave, a design that originated with founder Stefano Serapian in the 1940s.
The focus on customization underscores the artisanal nature of Serapian’s products, particularly its signature Secret Tote bag. This bag, featuring a concealed inner pocket, not only exemplifies style but also practicality, making it a favored choice for urban residents in cities like New York and Milan.
«Our clients are connoisseurs who seek excellence in every category. They purchase watches from watchmakers, jewelry from jewelers, and so forth. They desire the pinnacle of each category. We concentrate on what we excel at—crafting entirely unique bags,» explained Bohe. He highlighted how Serapian’s bags, free from conspicuous logos, initiate conversations among those in the know, fostering a sense of camaraderie among their discerning clientele.
While the Madison Avenue store had a soft opening in September and is set to remain open through March, there is potential for it to become a permanent fixture. The store’s opulent arches and marble flooring pay homage to the Villa Mozart brand headquarters in Milan. Inside, the boutique not only showcases Serapian’s artisanal creations but also aligns itself with other aspects of Milanese and Italian art and design. This includes works from the ‘Scuola Metafisica’ art movement by the late Italian artist Giorgio De Chirico, as well as contemporary design pieces from Doppia Firma, a project by Fondazione Cologni.
«We appreciate this dialogue because we feel like we are part of this realm of design and craftsmanship,» Bohe noted, explaining that while they don’t directly sell these pieces, they can connect interested individuals with the artists.
The store also features works by Milan photographer Guido Taroni, who captured prominent creative figures in their Milanese homes. Bohe described this as a glimpse into the hidden beauty of Milan—the villas, palazzos, and gardens concealed behind closed doors.
Much like the discreet charm of a Serapian bag, the store’s interior design is inspired by Milan. Faux-marble display tables, crafted by a La Scala theater set designer, and customized Mosaico leather Catalina chairs, designed by Luigi Caccia Dominioni for the Azucena design collective in the 1950s, contribute to the design-centric atmosphere. This setting serves as a backdrop for the Secret bag and its diverse iterations, as well as the Meline women’s handbags and the men’s collection of briefcases and professional backpacks. Serapian’s prices range from approximately $1,800 to $7,000.
Currently, Serapian’s distribution in the U.S. is exclusively through Bergdorf Goodman, but CEO Maxime Bohe envisions expanding to Los Angeles as the brand’s next move in the United States. Furthermore, the brand is actively searching for a permanent location in Paris to follow up on the success of its Rue de La Paix store. Serapian’s collection is now available at esteemed Parisian establishments such as The Ritz Paris and Le Bon Marché, in addition to permanent stores in Abu Dhabi and upcoming plans for a location in Japan.
The brand plans to follow up its recent showcase at Milan Fashion Week Spring 2024 with an official event in New York on October 12. Third-generation Giovanni Nodari Serapian will be present to provide clients with a personalized experience rich in brand history and anecdotes. This level of intimacy authentically reflects Serapian’s approach to crafting leather goods.
«Serapian is less about celebrity and more about clients who don’t follow trends. They know what they like and buy Serapian for its values: handcrafted in Italy using the finest leather. This is at the core of its identity,» concluded Bohe, underscoring the brand’s enduring commitment to craftsmanship and quality.