La Fabrique Singulière cultivates relationships between fine craftspeople and luxury brands. The resulting projects put artisanal crafts and their creators on center stage while reinforcing the brand’s identity, Founder Laure Chollat-Namy tells our sister publication Formes de Luxe.
When Laure Chollat-Namy founded La Fabrique Singulière early 2020, she was testing the waters of entrepreneurship after a career spanning more than 25 years at Chanel. She spent 15 years in the beauty division in marketing and product development roles working on major launches that included what were to become bestsellers, including Coco Mademoiselle and Les Exclusifs de Chanel. From there she moved to positions in operational marketing and retail. “These experiences gave me a global vision of the beauty activity. I then joined Chanel’s Watch and Fine Jewelry division, where product launches took on a very different scale; a fragrance debuts with thousands of units, but in high jewelry it starts from unique pieces!” she recalls. “While the scale of these products, their development times and their value are worlds apart, the approach to marketing is very similar and I was delighted to bring my product marketing skills to the division back when it was still a small portion of the Maison’s activity.”
Another common thread throughout her career was her collaboration and proximity to creative directors, which would later have an impact on the creation of La Fabrique Singulière. During her tenure in the high jewelry division, she oversaw the bi-annual launch events aimed at Chanel’s clients d’exception. “For each event there was the same desire to create a happening that was unique and had meaning for the collection at hand. It was a perfect marriage of business and image”, recalls Chollat-Namy.
After leaving Chanel, her desire to remain connected to the world of artisanal art and exceptional levels of expertise was apparent. “I yearned to fully enter the world of artisanal crafts by capitalizing on my double expertise of product development and marketing and creating loyalty among an exceptional clientele.”
To get an insider’s perspective on artisanal crafts, Chollat-Namy began giving her time and expertise on a pro-bono basis to Artisans d’Avenir, a French association geared to give craftspeople the business smarts they very often lack. “I was familiar with artisanal crafts through the prism of Chanel’s Maisons d’Art, but most of those workshops are quite significant from a size perspective. I wanted to learn about the eco-system where around 80% of the artisans work alone.” Her work with Artisans d’Avenir, which includes seeking sponsors, has also grown her network among craftspeople.
A key element that forged the roadmap for La Fabrique Singulière was Chollat-Namy’s observation that luxury brands have an entrenched need to cultivate loyalty among their high-end clientele and regularly scout ways to retain their attention—and safeguard their business. This aspect would be her niche and her opportunity: to develop exceptional, limited edition products in partnership with craftspeople specialized in small series or unique pieces that communicate values of excellence. “The starting point for La Fabrique Singulière was to facilitate project creation between luxury brands and artisanal crafts by drawing on the expertise of both ecosystems,” she recalls.
While the original plan was to focus on gifting, the scope of company’s projects has widened to include experiences, packaging and merchandising— all in a bid to “tell stories and be a vector for emotion”.
La Fabrique Singulière’s first project came about at the peak of the Covid crisis in 2020. The company was approached by a real-estate firm looking to offer their clients the keys to their recently acquired luxury home in a gift box; to create an experience around the act of purchase. For this debut project, Chollat-Namy called on French bookbinder Atelier Dreieck, which produced 30 bespoke hot stamped gift boxes.
The immersion experience
This was followed by a project for Parisian gastronomic institution Le Relais Plaza, the starred restaurant of the Hôtel Plaza Athénée. Drawing on the restaurant’s Art Deco era decor, and especially its glass windows, La Fabrique Singulière came up with an idea to offer loyal diners their own personalized water carafes reserved just for them for each meal. La Compagnie du Verre, specialists in glass cold processing, selected a stock carafe from Bormioli Luigi which they personalized with three different Art Deco inspired motifs; the clients’ initials were sandblasted onto “their” carafe.
La Compagnie du Verre
A second assignment for the Plaza Athénée was the creation of a brooch by feather artist Ana Gold, designed as an accessory to brighten up the uniforms of select staff members (pictured below).
La Fabrique Singulière works with both the tangible and the intangible side of luxury. Two years ago, the company was approached by a French luxury group to develop made-to measure “experiences” allowing their most prized clients to discover the savoir faire of French artisans. “Beyond just visiting an atelier, we designed ultra-bespoke programs so that the client could immerse themselves in an artistic craft by spending one-on-one time with the artisan and witnessing their creative process behind the scenes.” So far, the company has created a catalog of 12 ‘‘experiences” which, Chollat-Namy points out, are unrelated to the brand’s products. And an essential point, she adds, is that the program be a source of revenue for the artisan, and not simply a vector for visibility.
Craftcycling, the company’s latest initiative, originated from Chollat- Namy’s dual observation that craftspeople are increasingly using scraps for their creations and that due to ever-stricter regulations, brands can no longer throw out their unsold materials (in France at least). “A lot of craftspeople work with scraps either by choice, due to sourcing issues or by (environmental) commitment. So why not tell a new story through these materials and valorize them? We are seeing more and more demand from our clients in this area,” affirms Chollat-Namy. A debut project from the initiative in 2021 was with Ruinart Studio, which gave carte blanche to craftspeople to transform material scraps. The brief was to create a one-of-a-kind piece made of scrapped wire hoods left over from the brand’s production. The idea being that the final product would convey the Maison’s identity and highlight its commitment to CSR. French designer and architect Cécile Gray created a basket, made exclusively of wire hoods. She applied skills blending basketmaking, jewelry, weaving and embroidery. Called No More Pressure, the piece is fashioned using 86 muselets interconnected with 15 different meshes, braids and weave. “Craftcycling is about reinvention to create something that communicates a brand’s values and identity while allowing the artist to fully express themself!" she concludes.
Jeweler’s studio: Moët & Chandon x Karl Mazlo
For champagne house Moët & Chandon the company has worked on two exceptional projects. The brand’s brief was to create an exceptional adornment for four jeroboams of Moët Impérial. The design, a brass sculpture that encases the three-liter bottle, is the work of Parisian jeweler Karl Mazlo. He created the pedestal’s organic lines to recall a map of Epernay, while the brass medallions affixed to the piece are meant to evoke the effervescence of Champagne. The bottles were metallized by French supplier Hertus, which created a custom color that was a perfect match for the brass adornment.
Moët & Chandon/ Julie Limont
Packaging designer Alice Moreau concieved the wooden coffret sheathed in linen paper which was manufactured by Norline. Four pieces were made, of which three are destined for sale in France, in Japan and in the UK.
Moët & Chandon/ Julie Limont
Designer & cabinetmaker: Moët & Chandon x Dimitry Hlinka
La Fabrique Singulière called on Dimitry Hlinka, Paris-based designer and cabinetmaker, to create an habillage for the magnum serving ritual for Moët & Chandon’s Champagne Bar at Harrod’s in London. Hlinka’s creation is a 3D-printed resin shell onto which more than 1,600 polished brass discs were affixed by hand along with a gold-plated brass label and a base, also in plated brass.
Moët & Chandon/ Julie Limont
The discs mimic the design of the bar’s signature “shimmering chandelier“ meant to recall the effervescence of Champagne bubbles. From a usage perspective, the bottle is placed onto the base, the sheath is slipped on and the base locks via a turning motion. “This project was a feat of engineering and we’ve signed on for a second round for a Nebuchadnezzar (15 liters) that is decorated with more than 6,000 brass accessories.”
Moët & Chandon/ Julie Limont
Decorative painter: Guerlain x Maison Matisse
For the latest installment in Guerlain’s Exceptional Creations collection, decorative painter Astrid de Chaillé hand painted the historic Bee Bottle flacon and stopper (manufactured by Pochet du Courval) in an artistic collaboration between the LVMH brand and Maison Matisse. The colorful and stylized décor, exclusive to Maison Matisse, was inspired by the artist’s 1930 painting, La musique. Each of the 14 flacons is numbered.
This article was published in Formes de Luxe's spring 2023 issue. Subscribe to the magazine here.