Joseph Duclos’ Creative Director, Ramesh Nair Gives Quiet Luxury A Voice – Forbes

Joseph Duclos’ Creative Director, Ramesh Nair Gives Quiet Luxury A Voice – Forbes

Ramesh Nair took up design at a time when most of the students his age where interested in other courses. Having grown up in a military family, a career as a designer seemed like an odd choice. So, he took to the sciences. But after graduation, Ramesh decided to pursue the creative path, and enrolled at then-newly opened National Institute of Fashion Technology in New York. He graduated in 1989 along with the first batch of alumni from the school.

He would later be known as the designer whose genius can bring heritage brands back to life. According to Ramesh, it’s a career direction that was by no means pre-charted on his career map. “I never really thought about it that way,” he begins. “But I I’ve always found it interesting.” Stints at Yohji Yamamoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Christian Lacroix prepared him for the road ahead. Ramesh later joined Hermès under the creative direction of Martin Margiela where he designed for the womenswear line.

In 2010, he was appointed Creative Director for French heritage brand, Moynat. His success at revitalizing the luxury leather goods label cemented Ramesh Nair’s distinction as the “resurrection guru.” At the height of the pandemic, he took the reins as Creative Director for 269-year-old Royal Leather Manufacture, Joseph Duclos.

Couture, Craft, And A 269-Year History

“I got into fashion because of my love for couture. Everything about it leads back to craft and the artisan,” shares Ramesh. This appreciation and understanding for the wearable art form now informs his process. Whereas most designers create sketches, the creative director prefers to drape and work closely with the artisan. “When I was offered the post at Joseph Duclos, I thought my days designing bags were over. At that time, I wanted to create clothes,” the designer confessed.

When Joseph Duclos CEO, Frank Dahan, shared with him the rich tanning history of the brand, Ramesh was immediately drawn. Founded in the late 1700s, Joseph Duclos was established in Lectoure, France. The tannery, which brought together the most gifted artisans from the around the country and all across Europe, was also named by King Louis XV as Royal Leather Manufacture. Ramesh adds, “The first thing I did was dig deep and go back to the 17th and 19th Century. What was leather used for during those times? They were used by military and royalty as coin purses, dispatch cases, gun powder pouches, furniture and coverings.”

As he would if he were working on garments, Ramesh sat down with the artisans. Working in a collaborative manner, they integrated, refined, and pushed the boundaries in tanning techniques, hand stitching and other specialized metiers. “We had no technical drawings except for the closure,” he discloses. Ramesh anchored designs of the first Joseph Duclos collection on historical context and deep respect for the savoir-faire that, he emphasizes, belongs to the craftsmen.

It Takes 20-45 Hours To Make One Joseph Duclos Bag

Ramesh clarifies that his intention has never been to create an ultra-luxury brand. “It’s always been about revival of craft. It’s about bringing back that special connection between the product and its maker. It’s going back to creating well-made products. It takes between 20-45 hours to make one Joseph Duclos bag. In that sense, artisans have shared a part of themselves to the customer.”

The Diane Bag, follows the form of 18th Century coin purses and flaps of ceremonial dispatch cases. It was handcrafted using the finest heritage calfskin leathers with a natural treatment. It’s name is inspired by the hunting goddess, Diana, expressed through the intricate arrow-shaped clasp. “I was obsessed with the closure. The design of the bag had gone through four to five iterations. We continue to tweak this into other variations,” explains Ramesh.

According to the Creative Director, more tweaks are being made on the Saint Claire Bag. A design expression that lends pared down refinement and deep sense of appreciation for history, this bag and its iterations, utilize tanning methods that date as far back as the Age of Enlightenment. The combination of hard Heritage leather the contrasts with soft Arpege nubuck, bring contemporary flair to a style inspired by gun powder bags used by royalty. “The element of surprise is in the base material,” opines Ramesh.

Other designs that have become staples of an elegant yet understated wardrobe include the Fontélie and Lectoure. Joseph Duclos’ product range has also extended to fragrances and accessories. “I’m not against going into home or other lifestyle categories. In a heritage house like Joseph Duclos, the intention is to keep the tradition of craft going. To respect it and the artisans. It’s a long haul commitment.”

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Published at Tue, 23 May 2023 04:34:08 +0000