Re-Illuminating Etienne Aigner

8th November, 2012

Chances are you’ve seen the name Etienne Aigner before ~ but I bet it’s been a while. His is a story that dates back to the end of the Second World War, when Mr. Aigner, a former bookbinder, began creating bespoke leather goods for couturiers like Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior ~ even orchestrating accessories for Dior’s famous New Look collection.

After a few years, in 1949, the Hungarian designer left Paris for New York City, ready to strike out on his own. At the time, his means were limited, so he used whatever was at hand to craft his wares.|ABOVE| modern Etienne Aigner bags (at far left) and Anna Mules, with vintage bags from the Etienne Aigner archive

He set up a small shop, and ~ inspired by the needs of his wife ~ set to work making little wallets for rationing cards. Shortly after, Mr. Aigner began crafting his first bags from the most modest of materials: linen sheets recycled from the harvest sacks of neighboring farmers, trimmed with leather strips cut from old suitcases found in an attic and finished with antique toggles collected from flea markets. At the time, he couldn’t afford more than one colorant, so every bit of leather was dipped in the same burgundy dye bath. |ABOVE| treasured examples of Mr. Aigner’s original handiwork

Even later, when his resources improved, Etienne Aigner would stay true to this combination of simple linens and oxblood leathers. As he described it himself, “They caused a sensation because of the novelty of their styling and the unconventionality of the materials used. What would their wearers have thought were they to learn the humble origins of what they considered to be the height of chic!”|ABOVE + BELOW| Etienne Aigner Notched Cardigan, Leather Castell Skirt, Preface II Dome Satchel, Claudine boots and jewelry; Hat Attack scarf; vintage belt

Well, chic the look was then and chic it continues to be today. After years spent under the control of licensees, the Etienne Aigner brand has finally fallen into the caring hands of new management, including Creative Director Daniela Anastasio Bardazzi and Apparel Consultant Tawfik Mounayer. Together, these two are injecting the founder’s practical magic back into this brand, re-illuminating what originally made his work great. Their reinvention aims to address the real needs of today’s creative class, offering effortless, accessible luxury that women can really live in, head-to-toe, day-in and day-out. And, considering that cordovan is THE color of the season, this relaunch seems serendipitously timely. Happily, the newly re-imagined Etienne Aigner has paid forward this stroke of good fortune by developing a deceptively simple collection of ingeniously designed products with an undeniably timeless elegance. Of course, as Mr. Aigner believed and Mrs. Anastasio Bardazzi recently expressed, “That’s the thing about truly lucky people; they make their own luck. It’s a personal essence crafted one thoughtful decision at a time throughout their daily lives.”|ABOVE LEFT + BELOW| Etienne Aigner earrings, Anastasia Tunic, vintage bag (worn at waist) and Claudine BootsEugenia Kim hat |ABOVE RIGHT| Etienne Aigner Anastasia Blouse, skirt, vintage suitcase and Audrey BootsEugenia Kim hatIt’s my sincere belief that personal style works the same way; it’s developed one careful decision at a time, throughout the ever-curving course of our lives. That’s why I’ve been thinking and writing more and more about enduring fashion assets these days, and highlighting brands that I think are marrying well the dual desires to be both cutting-edge and classic.|ABOVE| Etienne Aigner Anastasia Blouse, Colette Pumps, Preface I Satchel (top) & Daily HoboJo No Fui pants |BELOW| Etienne Aigner earrings, bracelet, cuff and collarThus, we were inspired to shoot this story and share it with you, to celebrate the heritage of a brand that’s long been about timeless elegance, and whose relaunch, in the words of Mrs. Anastasio Bardazzi, “speaks to those women who don’t just buy from any brand. It’s for those women searching for items that truly address their aspirations, in addition to their here-and-now day-to-day lives. They know that the first step in preparing for life’s boundless opportunities can be the most challenging: figuring out what to wear. We are giving them invaluable pieces that make that not only simple, but exciting and surprisingly effortless.”  Isn’t that what we’re all looking for, after all?|ABOVE + BELOW LEFT| Etienne Aigner Crewneck Sweater, Textured Wool Coat, Epic Satchel and Anna MulesDylan & Rose leggings |BELOW RIGHT| Colette Pumps|ABOVE + BELOW| Etienne Aigner jacket, Anastasia Blouse, pants and Anna Mules; Hat Attack fedora|ABOVE| Etienne Aigner necklace, Anastasia Blouse and vintage bag; Hat Attack hat; vintage Burberry scarf; Haute Hippie skirt|ABOVE + BELOW| Etienne Aigner Paneled Popover, shorts, shoes and Preface I Satchel|ABOVE LEFT| (from top) Etienne Aigner Epic Satchel, Preface I Satchel and Epic Large Satchel |ABOVE RIGHT + BELOW| Etienne Aigner Anastasia TunicEpic Satchel and Claudine Boots; custom-made hat; Marc by Marc Jacobs scarfTrussardi glovesRe-Illuminating Etienne Aigner |STARRING| Mitzi Peirone |PHOTOGRAPHY| by Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg |STYLING| by Kelly Framel |HAIR| by Bethany Brill |MAKEUP| by Porsche Cooper for FLIRT! Cosmetics |LOCATION| Ann Street Studio

  • Anonymous

    The shoot is very Ralph Lauren meets Louis Vuitton (Marc Jacobs’) train station. Sumptuous and autumnal, I love it.

  • Great shoot, and I LOVE the background information you provided on this brand. I had no idea about it’s humble, yet extremely interesting beginnings. Glad to hear they’re making a comeback. I’m a marketer by trade, so I enjoy watching as brands try to reinvent themselves. I hope theirs is a success story, and it looks like they’re already on the right path!


  • Anonymous

    wow,amazing photoshoot! love the shoes!

  • monkeyshines

    gorgeous and classy!



  • Sofie


  • Sialsiquiero

    Conquistadas por el granate esta temporada!

  • CJAJ09 CJAJ09

    great looks and the bags are so gorgeously timeless

  • Nico

    Wow amazing bags and jewellery I can’t choose one!

    New post–>

  • Nico

    Wow amazing bags and jewellery I can’t choose one!

    New post–>

  • MònicaC

    Hello, I am a follower of your blog Spanish.
    I love your blog, elegant and chic. This post is wonderful. Supplements, the models, the styles and decors. Very bucolico!
    In the post in which are you, like me you have to combine elegance looks.
    The photography is beautiful, congratulations on everything.

  • Um, WHAT?! The Paneled Popover is SICK!! Always respected this brand–now I know why. Thanks Kelly–stunning post.

  • great photos!! love the bags

  • Awesome looking handbags. Great look.

  • Erica

    Growing up in rural South Carolina (and still do) it was normal to see all of the really fashionable women (including my mom) wearing Aigner purses and accessories. I have two vintage bags and a leather jacket I haven’t worn in years. I read your site EVERY DAY and when I saw the all of the Aigner bags it brought back a flood of memories of my mother and her friends. Thanks for posting this, I SHALL be wearing my Aigner purse and jacket tomorrow.

  • Stockley Gardens Chic
  • Amy

    My sweet grandmother Lucy (from Nashville) had vintage Aigner in her closet. I love this post! It reminded me of being a little girl and putting my tiny feet in her oxblood Aigner pumps.

  • I have always loved Etienne Aigner’s shoes and bags! So classic and
    beautiful. Actually, my absolute FAVORITE pair of riding boots is by
    Aigner — tobacco brown leather with suede panels and gold bit hardware!

  • Absolutely Stunning! I love these shots – Visually beautiful and evocative!

  • Such class pieces!

  • Jess

    Ugh, so bored and uninspired I could cry! These items and images feel so old and not in a good way! Maybe stale is a better word.

  • Caity
  • Jennifer

    Amazing bags. Beautiful editorial!

    xo Jennifer

  • knockingonfashionsdoor

    J´adore tout…

  • Courtney

    Truly stunning… thank you!

  • Amazing pieces and love the photos!

  • I’ve instantly fallen in love with the gorgeous oxblood leather! Those boots are so beautiful and glamorous, and yet perfect for everyday wear! Thanks so much for introducing me to this brand!

    xx Ivana
    Macarons and Pearls

  • vittoria gallacci

    I’m in love with the burgundy/orange hat!


  • Jan’s camera

    Great photo shoot.

  • Bloomaglow

    Love this post!!

  • Mrs Jones

    Way back when I was in 8th grade my mom bought me a pair Etienne Aigner shoes from Spiegel to go with my school uniform. I hated them at first but then my cooler, stylish older cousin told me i had no idea how dope my shoes really were. It took some time to convince me but i’ll never forget them. Burgundy with a slight wedge heel, round toe. Today they would be a classic.
    – Mrs. Jones

  • Natalie Kerner

    Nice work, Kelly! I love the first look especially. The fur scarf with the belted sweater is spot on. Etienne Aigner is great- I just bought a pair of their riding boots this summer and was so excited to wear them this fall.

  • Lubna

    Designers like Aigner should be highlighted more often. We’re always concentrating & overrating one brand ‘just because’ – and we forget the true artists out there. Brilliant post x

    Lubna |

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for this post and rediscovering Aigner for your readers. I had not heard of him name for some time and now he is back on my radar. What beautiful craftsmanship and classic design. Two of my favorite elements put together. Hopefully I can find the fanny pack (my personal fav) for an upcoming photo shoot!

  • Ines

    Is the wide vintage belt also an Etienne Aigner?

  • Pingback: Etienne Aigner « Red shoes, No knickers()

  • Ashley Alena

    thank you for this post! I’ve discovered something new…that is truely a timeless classic. The vintage purses…sigh…better to discover Etienne Aigner now then never.

  • Lindsey

    Interested in finding some vintage Etienne Aigner bags? Please visit. I find them and sell bags, shoes, and other vintage items. or

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TheGlamourai is a webzine produced by Kelly Framel, a multi-media creative director based in downtown New York (but constantly bouncing around the world). Part fashion blog, part glossy mag, part fantasy travel portal, it's your ultimate online destination for stylish daydreams. Tune in for inspirational editorials, beauty tutorials, outfit ideas, DIYs, jet-set travel tips and more!
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