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History, craftsmanship and seduction by Fauré Le Page |


History, craftsmanship and seduction by Fauré Le Page

LIFE AND STYLE - Millet M. Mananquil - The Philippine Star
History, craftsmanship and seduction by Fauré Le Page
Fauré Le Page creative director and owner Augustin de Buffévent

It was like a vision: a French Richard Gere-meets-Pierce Brosnan holding a gun pouch (their younger versions, of course). And then history vignettes, luxe retail industry talk and plenty of laughter.

This was how I met Augustin de Buffévent at the new Fauré Le Page shop in Greenbelt 4. The general manager in the Philippines, Mario Katigbak, did not prepare my mind for this encounter. De Buffévent is handsome, adorable and funny; there was never a dull moment with him.

In his previous life, he was a marketing guy for a French brand, until his love for art-watching and museum-hopping led him to discover a brand that is two centuries old: Fauré Le Page. The hunting tools of Louis XVI and a saber of Napoleon were signed “Fauré Le Page.” How could he ignore it?

De Buffévent bought this brand that was in the hands of seven generations of the family that owned it. His present life as director general and artistic director has allowed him to mix history with contemporary in a brand that now seduces the modern generation.

Imagine a product named “Urban Knight Gangsta Pouch” and you get the picture. Fauré Le Page is like a fresh wind of coolness in this war-weary world. Which brings us to a clarification: the ancient Fauré Le Page did not manufacture tools for destruction. More like ceremonial weapons that were badges of power, prestige and bravery.

PHILIPPINE STAR: You’re described as a man of humor. You promote your brand, Fauré Le Page (FLP), in an amusing way.

AUGUSTIN DE Buffévent: This is part of the Parisian spirit. The motto of Fauré Le Page is “Armed for seduction.” Humor is the best weapon of seduction.

Armed, indeed. The brand started in 1717 — that makes it the oldest Parisian luxury leather house — as a maker of guns and armor for royalty as well as revolutionaries. What attracted you to the brand?

It started with arms, but now we’re making bags. Royalty and hunters needed to carry their arms in containers. So that leaves us with the leather bags they carried. We like to think that our brand reminds us that, in love, nothing should be taken for granted. You have to fight for love.

SSI president and CEO Anton Huang and Ayala Land SVP Mariana Zobel (3rd and 4th from left) lead the opening of Fauré Le Page owned by Augustin de Buffévent (right). From left are Stephanie Chong and Mario Katigbak of Fauré Le Page Philippines and Ayala Malls COO Paul Birkett. The sculpted tree (behind) signifies deeply-rooted values of the centuries-old brand.

Are you speaking from experience?

Who knows! (Laughs) I was attracted to the history behind FLP. I have childhood memories of my grandfather hunting with rifles, of growing up amid antique armor next to paintings. I love going to auctions and museums, and that is how I discovered FLP. I have so many favorite museums, such as Musee de la Chaise, Musee des Invalides, Musee de la Vie Romantique, Place Saint Georges… The history of the brand that provided even to revolutionaries is fascinating.

Did that include the revolutionaries in Les Miserables?

There were three major revolutions. The first was in 1789, then in 1830, and lastly in 1848. I’d say the Les Miz rebels were in the second. They fought right in front of the store.

Would you consider yourself a revolutionary in the retail battlefield? You also do designs.

I’d rather say I’m a free spirit. I started designing for the brand after I bought it, but I am not alone, I work with a creative team.

You’re a hands-on owner.

A happy owner.

For instance, you made these gun-shaped pouches attached to bags, as containers for lipsticks. They even have secret mirrors when you open them. Quite amusing.

I love it when I see a lady pulling out a lipstick from a gun-shaped pouch. We like putting elements of surprise in our items. To me, the art of seduction is the art of surprise.

Who were some well-known customers of FLP in history?

There’s Louis XV, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, Balzac…

Weapons of seduction: Designed for men and women, Fauré Le Page products go by names like Good Knight, Ladies First, Daily Battle, Take It Easy and Hot Fire Scale. Arthur the Firefighter (left) is the name of a keyholder.

What was the real story behind the phrase “Not tonight, Josephine,” which Napoleon reportedly told her?

Hmmm, I should research on that. (Laughter)

Though I read that there are no written records on this.

Couples should really fight for love. It is difficult to maintain a relationship.

What is the best advice you can give to lovers?

Talk. Know yourself. Although I remember my grandmother saying, “I’m never wrong. I am always right. But when I was wrong, I was right to be wrong.”

From love, let’s talk about luxe. What are your observations on the current luxe retail industry?

Customers will always go for name brands, especially those with a history of excellence in craftsmanship. They will always go for quality. Time is a luxury when it comes to making bags. For example, it may take a bag that requires 21,000 stitches, two years to be finished. Like in love, you have to be patient. We are not part of the industry that does the crazy rhythm of producing new items every two months.

Can customers bring their bags to FLP for repair? Although the brand is really reputed to be durable, travel-friendly and resistant to stains and scratches.

Yes, we do repairs of FLP products. Just come back to the store.

What about brick-and-mortar versus selling online? Which one prevails?

During the pandemic, everyone, of course, was doing online selling and talking on Facetime. It was a good moment for us to think while being confined to doing work via computers. But now, brick-and-mortar is important, as people need to touch products and try them in person. In fact, stores are being designed now to be more comfortable places. Brick-and-mortar is forever. Do you see yourself in front of the screen all the time?

The Jacquard-inspired photowall: Luxe shops are made more comfortable.

Do you have problems dealing with fakes?

We have seen fakes of FLP, and they are really ugly. Our canvases are really expensive, it is hard to manufacture them. You have to consider factors like humidity, speed and density. And our products, depending on the items, are made in France, Belgium, Italy and Spain. The pattern on our bag is really inspired by scales — the first armors were made of scales — and have that depth and 3D effect. You can say they’re a symbol of strength and protection.

In what field were you before you bought FLP?

I worked for 10 years doing retail work for Dior. I wanted to shift to an entrepreneurial life.

And do museums, art. Do you collect art?

I do, and that’s my problem.

Your favorites?

I am particularly fascinated by Guidette Carbonell, a French artist known for her ceramics. I am also a tennis watcher (Nadal is my fave), a fan of chef Jacques Genin’s chocolates, a ballet and theater watcher... Right now, I am obsessed with creating new lines for FLP. We are launching scarves this June and July, and in September, we have a surprise in Manila.

What makes you happy?

Meeting and working with creative people.

And what makes you sad?

When people talk with weapons rather than words.

* * *

In the Philippines, Fauré Le Page is exclusively distributed by Stores Specialists Inc. with a shop in Greenbelt 4, Ayala Center, Makati. Follow the author on Instagram and Facebook @milletmartinezmananquil. Email her at and

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