Fashion

Philippe Cassegrain, President of Longchamp and Designer of the Le Pliage Bag, Dies at 83

Cassegrain succumbed to COVID-19-related complications.
IMAGE Instragram/ @longchamp, Longchamp
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Philippe Cassegrain, president of French leather goods company Longchamp, succumbed to COVID-19-related complications last November 28. The Cassegrain family recently confirmed his passing. He was 83.

Cassegrain, who served the family-run company for 60 years, was instrumental in the success of Longchamp, not only in France, but also in the rest of the world. Among his crowning achievements was designing the origami-inspired Le Pliage Bag, whose lightness, roominess, and ingenious ability to be folded away have made it iconic.

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His origin story begins in 1956, when, as part of “international relations,” the 16-year-old, armed with a suitcase full of Longchamp samples, traveled to Africa, Asia, and later the U.S. “My mission was to meet with my father’s contacts, I was curious about everything,” a young Cassegrain said.

From there, he became more and more involved in the family business, mastering creation and manufacturing, marketing and sales. In 1972, he succeeded his father, created travel bags with nylon and leather, and introduced Longchamp in Asia.

It was in 1993 when Cassegrain created the Le Pliage bag, “a quintessence of his design philosophy: simplicity, relevance, and elegance.” And for 30 years, with the support of his wife Michèle, Cassegrain grew Longchamp into a network of boutiques around the world.

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The Cassegrain family describes its patriarch as a tireless creative in the statement below:

“Just like the brand logo, a rider on a galloping horse, Philippe Cassegrain was a tireless creative with insatiable curiosity. Every season, he worked to renew the men’s bags and luggage collections. Coming every day to the office, exchanging over and over with the workshops, passionate drawer, inventor, he injected smart and fair spirit in all its creations.

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“Philippe Cassegrain embodied all Longchamp values: sincerity, dynamism, optimism, and particularly ‘creative curiosity.’ His interest in the others and his open mind were a daily source of inspiration for everyone.”

With Cassegrain’s passing, the house of Longchamp now falls under the stewardship of his eldest son, Jean, who is the CEO, his daughter, Sophie Delafontaine, who is the creative director, and his younger son, Olivier, who leads the brand’s development of U.S. boutiques.

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