If only all husbands were like Jerome Dreyfuss, the boyishly handsome talent who started designing handbags in 2002 pretty much solely for his wife and her friends. As he saw it, there weren't any versatile, logo-free options on the market for such stylish dames. Now, of course, it doesn't hurt that his wife happens to be the impossibly chic Parisian designer Isabel Marant.
The resulting bags created such buzz that Dreyfuss became a seemingly overnight sensation among the fashion set (despite having spent years designing clothing), and his signature brand of supple, utilitarian-yet-sexy carryalls quickly popped up (and sold through) at it-stores like Barneys. Pretty soon, Dreyfuss was thigh-deep in the industry that he'd previously found ridiculous for its lack of truly wearable options.
Of all the designers making a name for themselves in the post $2,000 handbag era (indeed, it seems as though Dreyfuss's timeless, effortlessly chic bags blossomed at exactly the moment that showy bags like the Balenciaga "Le Dix" and the Fendi "Spy" were on the wane), Dreyfuss really seems to get it. His bags are composed of buttery-soft leather (and, more recently, exotic skins), that age beautifully and are chock full of brilliant little compartments for everything a woman would ever (ever) need. The popular "Twee" style boasts two side pouches, a zippered compartment on the flap, and an extra interior compartment for super-hidden essentials. The larger "Billy" satchel is soft and slouchy, with pouches galore and short and long straps for added wearability. In a cheeky twist, Dreyfuss even gave many of his bags male names (Antoine, Franky, Diego)—a nod to the fact that for a lot of women, a bag becomes more than a functional carryall, and more of a trusted companion. My favorite add-on to the bags is a tiny detail that some miss: Each comes equipped with a tiny leather cord on the bag's interior with a teensy flashlight. The purpose of said light? To help a gal locate whatever she might have lost in her bag. (Even my husband-to-be was impressed by that one.)
Dreyfuss's newly-opened outpost—his first in the U.S., boasting nearly every style in the Dreyfuss lookbook—is as quirky and charming as its wares. The designer has built a cool, wood-walled cabin of sorts within the larger Soho space, creating a more intimate store-within-a-store experience that also allows Dreyfuss to house periodic installations outside of the designated retail area. (Dreyfuss even purchased some of the sculpture-furniture inside the store straight off the MoMA floor.) Dark, leafy palms peeking from behind the wooden walls only heighten the playful, treehouse-inspired quality of the store.
Of course, the full experience will be complete when Dreyfuss's other half, Marant, opens her long-awaited stateside outpost right next door in late April—creating a hotbed of Parisian style. Hide your credit cards accordingly.
Jerome Dreyfuss, 473 Broome Street between Wooster and Greene Sts.