Two brands, one famous, the other emerging; one French, the other Lebanese, both oriented towards the well-being of women, combine their respective talents to create an artisanal, endearing bag. Sarah’s Bag presents its take on Chloé’s Woody Nano.

Gaby Aghion, who founded the Chloé brand in Paris, in 1952, was born in 1921 in Alexandria, where she lived until the age of 24, before marrying her childhood friend Raymond Aghion, with whom she lived in the French capital.

Sarah Beydoun grew up in Beirut, facing the same blue waters, bathing in the same cosmopolitan spirit, the same mixture of languages and customs, of contemporaneity and tradition. Separated only by time, at the same crossroads of East and West, she could be a distant, and blonde, descendant of Gaby Aghion who defined herself as “a dark beauty and a bohemian spirit”.

A shared sense of female solidarity

When Gaby Aghion arrived in Paris after the Second World War, there were only two categories of clothing for women: haute couture and the rest, which translated into rigid suits, armor for female employees taking their first steps in a professional world dominated by men, or small modest dresses, homemade, copied from magazines.

She was the first to imagine luxury ready-to-wear, both precious and affordable, in sensual, soft materials and comfortable cuts, freeing the body and movement, translated into long flowing skirts and vaporous blouses. She was also the first to infuse her creations with refined craftsmanship: crochet, macrame, lace. Very quickly, her dresses were worn by the stars of the time, Jackie Kennedy, Brigitte Bardot, Maria Callas or Grace Kelly. She engaged young designers to collaborate in the creation of her collections. Karl Lagerfeld led the house from 1965 for fifteen years. Next would come Martine Sitbon, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Hannah MacGibbon, Clare Waight Keller, Natacha Ramsay-Levi, and now the Uruguay-born Gabriela Hearst: an army of women who in turn endeavored to preserve the heritage of the founder through clothing and accessories that were pleasant to wear and adapted to the 24 hours of a woman’s life.

When Sarah Beydoun was working on her Master’s degree in sociology, she was interested in the condition of women in Lebanese prisons. To create an interaction, a link, a pretext to come back to see the residents and improve their quality of life, she had the idea of using their training in beadwork to found a brand of bags. The prisoners and ex-prisoners, today more than 200, are the main employees of Sarah’s bag, a label that produces handmade wearables, most often embroidered, which surf on the pop and vintage wave, full of humor and finesse, both valuable and affordable. Soon Sarah’s bags were being worn by royalty like Queen Rania of Jordan, and stars including Amal Clooney and Beyoncé. Sarah Beydoun continues to lead the brand, but she does so in collaboration with young talents, on several occasions letting craftswomen embroider their own story, through collections woven from dreams and anchored in everyday life.

Bags at the crossroads of two worlds

As the Sarah’s Bag manifesto puts it, July 1, 2022 sees the launch of Sarah’s Bag for Chloé, a collaboration between two brands that believe in the importance of social sustainability and the empowerment of women.

The collaboration, which is expected to last a number of seasons, starts with Sarah’s Bag reimagining Chloé’s wildly popular Woody style tote, this time in a nano size. The finished product is a completely crocheted Woody Nano tote with shoulder strap. The choice of

technique, crochet, is an homage to the Mediterranean craft that many of us in the region have grown up with.

Luxury brand Chloé, under the helm of Uruguay-born fashion designer and creative director Gabriella Hearst since 2020, continues the legacy of Chloé founder Gaby Aghion, and her long-term commitment to uplift women, rebalance gender-based inequalities, and promote inclusivity. The goal is to create beautiful products with meaningful impact for people and for the planet. The newly coined term, ‘fair luxury’ seems to clearly reflect the ethos of both Chloé and Sarah’s Bag.