Lancel (company)

Lancel is a French Maison of luxury leather goods, founded in Paris in 1876 by Angèle and Alphonse Lancel[1] and developed by their son Albert.

FounderAngèle and Alphonse Lancel
Area served
Key people
Giovanni Bonatti (CEO)
suitcases, small leather goods, accessories...
ParentPiquadro SpA

It remained in the hands of the couple's descendants until it was acquired in the late 1970s by the Zorbibe brothers, who then launched the popular bucket-shaped Elsa bag under Chief Executive Sidney Toledano, now CEO of LVMH Fashion Group.

The company is based in Paris, where it still owns a landmark store at 8, Place de l’Opera together with over 80 more boutiques all over the world.


From pipes to handbagsEdit

Lancel was founded by Angèle and her husband Alphonse Lancel in 1876, in Paris, France.[2][3]

Angèle and Alphonse manufactured and sold pipes and accessories for smokers in a small shop in Paris.

At the end of the 1880s, cigarettes became popular in France, especially among women. As society evolved, the couple created specific items. Lancel developed a range of products for women smokers such as cigarette cases.

From 1883, the company produced leather goods. Lancel opened a leather workshop and began making handbags in line with demand. Angèle Lancel designed bags to keep smoking items organized. She replaced almoner's pouches with handbags.

In 1900, Angèle designed "le sac à malices" (bag of tricks), a bag which featured hidden pockets. Lancel launched its first handbag collection in 1902.[4]

The company rapidly expanded and produced gifts, jewelry, watches and decorative items.[5] The couple either manufactured the products themselves or relied on their craftsmen.

A few years after its launch, Lancel developed a retail outlet network. In the 1900s, the brand registered around 10 boutiques.


Their son Albert took the company's reins in 1901 and transformed the modest company into a global brand. He immediately placed the handbag at the core of the company's strategy. He suggested using fine leathers including lizard, calfskin... Albert also suggested adding pockets and other features. In 1929, he designed the Parapluie, which contained a mirror, a makeup bag and a folding umbrella.

1927 was a turning point for the company. The brand launched a bucket bag with a flexible shape.[5]

By the 1920s, the company also specialized in crafted grand tour luggage.[5]

Albert Lancel then filed a patent for the Bambino, the world's smallest portable radio, and the Aviona trunk. The company became a brand for luxury leather goods and accessories in Paris.

In the 1920s, Lancel was the first luxury brand to send its clients a catalog.

In 1929, Lancel opened a flagship store selling handbags and accessories[3] in the Opera district, where the brand is still present today.

After WW2Edit

Lancel was one of the top three luxury leather goods brands in Europe from the 1930s to 1990s.[6]

Lancel launched a luggage collection in the 1950s and used nylon canvas to manufacture supple luggage items. Lancel designed the Kangourou suitcase with Nélac, a specific nylon thread especially made for the brand. The Kangourou was the first suitcase made with a light and supple canvas.[7]

When Albert Lancel died in 1960, his daughters took the reins. The Zorbibe brothers, who were subcontractors, joined forces and finally bought Lancel in 1976 to widen the business expansion.

In 1982, Lancel launched a sport collection using the nylon canvas reminiscent of the Kangourou suitcase designed 30 years previously.

To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Lancel relaunched the bucket bag in 1987 under the name "Elsa de Lancel". 6 million pieces were sold worldwide within 10 years.

Lancel and the artistsEdit

From the beginning, Lancel established links with Parisian artists: Arletty, Mistinguett, Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Bourvil, Josephine Baker.[citation needed]

Actresses wore Lancel handbags in movies. Then, famous artists collaborated with the brand and designed handbags.[citation needed]

In 1970, Salvador Dalí sketched Le Dali handbag for his wife and muse Gala, with the help of Lancel's craftsmen.[8] He created La Toile Daligram. Le Dali was embossed with the secret love code. The bag referenced his love alphabet, "Daligramme", made up of eight cryptograms. The bag had a bicycle chain strap as a symbol of attachment between two people going in the same direction[5] and other symbols.[8]

This canvas was reinterpreted in 2011 in the Daligramme collection, a 50-piece series of handbags, purses, wallets and other accessories[9] that paid tribute to the Spanish artist.[10]

In the 1980s, Lancel took a new direction by associating faces with its collections, including supermodels Carla Bruni and Renée Simonsen, captured through the lens of photographer Patrick Demarchelier.[citation needed]

In 2008, Isabelle Adjani, French actress and brand muse, joined forces to create a line of handbags.[11]


Aviona collection

In the 2000s, Lancel continued its expansion. The brand launched various collections.

In 2006, Lancel reissued the Elsa bucket bag in celebration of its 20th anniversary. In the same year, the company designed Premier Flirt, which became another hit.[12]

Lancel launched various signature handbags which included the Premier Flirt, the Adjani, the Daligramme, L'Amante, and the Brigitte Bardot.[8]

Early on, Lancel branched out to cater to a masculine clientele. In 2015, the French national tricolor flag was printed on the weekender and travel bag collection.[3]

In 2011, Lancel celebrated its 135th anniversary.[8] Lancel launched the Angèle handbag for the occasion,[8] which featured hidden mirrors.

In 2013, Lancel created the L bag, inspired by a 1970s bag found in the company archives. A year later, the brand produced the Charlie, referencing a bag sold in the 1960s.[13] In the 2015 men's collection, briefcases typified high-class businessmen of the 1930s and 1940s.[3]

In 2015, Lancel launched a new line of travel bags called Pop. Made in France, this collection was light and pliable, thanks to its soft leather.[14]

Lancel relaunched its range of luggage in 2016 with its "Explorer" products and with Aviona in 2017.

In 2016, Lancel organized various events to celebrate its 140-year history:[15] a travelling exhibition and a book with Flammarion in which several artists were invited to a carte blanche. Marjane Satrapi, Martin Parr, Omar Victor Diopp were few of them.

In 2018, following the acquisition by the Piquadro Group, Lancel relaunched the Premier Flirt and launched the Ninon bag, which has become its best seller and is now proposed in new colors and variations at every season.


In 1997, Swiss company Richemont, the world's third biggest luxury group which owns Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels,[1] Piaget, and Montblanc,[16] acquired Lancel for 270 million euros ($375 million).[17][18][16][19][20] and, in 2018, sold it to the Italian company Piquadro Group, specializing in leather goods and owner of the Florentine heritage brand The Bridge and the tech-design brand of travel and business accessories Piquadro.

In 2018 Richemont sold Lancel to the Italian company specializing in leather goods Piquadro Group, which owns the brands Piquadro and The Bridge.


Sketches and prototypes are designed in Lancel's Paris Atelier. Skilled workers create prototypes designed by artistic director Barbara Fusillo, who takes inspiration for her creations from Lancel’s vast archives of hundreds of bags dating back to the Belle Epoque. Shapes, colors, stitching are decided in Paris, while the production is entirely made in Italy.

Each bag is handmade: between 20 and 100 pieces are necessary for a woman bag. It takes 3 months to develop a model in the Atelier Lancel in Paris. 1 to 2 square meters are necessary to make a woman bag.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Richemont's Lancel: a risky bet on a struggling brand". Reuters. 28 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Company Overview of Lancel Sogedi S.A." Bloomberg. April 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "Lancel Handbags, carrying the legacy".
  4. ^ "Lancel". April 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d "Lancel + Wallpaper* Itinéraire collection". March 2015.
  6. ^ "Lancel brings a sexy bag". September 2010.
  7. ^ "Lancel Launches New Line and E-Commerce". WWD. April 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Lancel's Leonello Borghi". 2011.
  9. ^ "Ode to Love: Daligramme Bags by Lancel". Luxury Insider. January 2012.
  10. ^ "Lancel revisits the Daligramme". Vogue. July 2012.
  11. ^ "Lancel bags Zhou Xun". China Daily. 2008.
  12. ^ "Lancel reveals new Brigitte Bardot line and concept store". November 2010.
  13. ^ "Lancel stages meet-cute between woman and handbag". Luxury Daily. September 2014.
  14. ^ "Lancel launches a new line of bags and its e-commerce". Fashion Network. April 2015.
  15. ^ "Lancel embarks on multi-city tour to mark 140th anniversary". September 8, 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Report: Richemont to Sell Lancel?". Accessories Magazine. September 2013.
  17. ^ "Richemont appoints Nomura to search suitors for Lancel". 26 September 2013.
  18. ^ "Richemont put leather goods brand Lancel for sale". International leather maker. September 2013.
  19. ^ "Richemont Said to Hire Adviser to Sell Lancel Luxury Bags". Bloomberg. September 2013.
  20. ^ "Richemont Said to Hire Adviser to Sell Purse Maker Lancel". 20 September 2013.