By Jola Chudy
Leaders in luxurious accessories and leather goods, S.T. Dupont's mastery of artistic crafts is unparalleled, making its covetable objects instant signifiers of style and good taste. CEO Alain Crevet reveals what it takes to create a masterpiece
Synonymous with expert craftsmanship, S.T. Dupont’s skill in creating beautiful objects to cherish is undisputed. Its dashing CEO, Alain Crevet, is the perfect ambassador for the brand, a man whose passion for elegant accessories have seen the company evolve its oeuvre to include a collection of fine leather goods, cigar accessories, unique and highly limited objects d’arts, ornate pens and, of course, the lighters for which it is most readily associated.
To hold an S.T. Dupont object in your hands is to touch the history of traditional artistic crafts: enamelling, lacquering, leather working, engraving, hand-painting and more. Covetable, collectible and desirable, a Dupont lighter brought out with a flourish lends you an instant impression of unimpeachable style.
Created for the man or woman who respects quality and elegance, S.T. Dupont’s latest offerings include some surprising new twists, ensuring that the brand remains current and relevant to a new generation of consumers, while continuing to offer compelling accessories, gewgaws and trinkets which aim to delight even the most august of its customers.
“The art of writing and lighters has always been a face of S.T. Dupont. We are lucky because our workshops are in the original village home of the founder, Simon Tissot-Dupont, Faverges. We are close to a lake and the slopes, with around 110 people working there today,” says Crevet. As they were over a century ago, items are made by hand using precious materials and heritage crafts; pens, lighters, accessories that are a byword for excellence.
France and French culture remains a pillar for Dupont, with a new Paris collection putting the City of Lights centre-stage. A lighter, fountain pen, roller pen and ballpoint feature depict a geometric pattern formed from the map of Paris. With a palladium finish, the double flame lighter is also engraved with the S.T. Dupont signature. Meanwhile, each pen is made of solid brass and contains a 14-carat solid gold nib with ink feeder technology to avoid the ink drying out. Attention has been paid to every detail with each nib checked by hand. “150 handcrafted operations and controls are required to produce each pen, which features the well-known S.T. Dupont articulated clip, with the design linked to the original S.T. Dupont trunk,” Crevet says.
Dupont founded the company in 1872 as a carriage making enterprise; when it was destroyed in a fire he bought a workshop which made leather briefcases for diplomats and businessmen. His goods were stacked in one of the largest departments stores of its day – Les Grand Magasins du Louvre – and when his sons took the business over in 1919, they expanded to include travel cases and the accessories that today continue to form its DNA.
S.T. Dupont draws ceaseless inspiration from the world of fine art, culture and the more refined elements of fine living. Two collections look to the iconic works of Picasso and Monet. “The company had a long relationship with Picasso, because he was a chain smoker and loved Dupont lighters; he drew the dove of peace in the 1940s and we got permission from his family to replicate it, which they gave because of the history,” reveals Crevet.
“Next, we presented a unique limited edition of his Profil de Femme from 1965, which is presented on a black lacquer lighter and two versions of a roller ball pen, as well as various leather goods and accessories. It was amazing to recreate this painting. We then presented a Monet painting that was created at the beginning of the Impressionist movement in 1858; Impression Soleil Levant. What is incredible is that this painting was created on November 13, 1972, the same year that S.T. Dupont was founded by Simon Tissot-Dupont.”
The master lacquerers tasked with the painstaking challenge of recreating Monet’s famous work, painted in just one day, worked with blue-flamed natural lacquer, with the distinctive blue boat and hazy background of waves and distant harbour hand-painted in pigments of blue and vivid orange.
“It’s an incredible piece of work that replicates the painting, but each one, hand-painted, is subtly unique. Laquer is a huge part of Dupont. When the company was still young, the founder was looking for a plater for metalwork, and in French the word for that is plaquer. When they published the advert in a newspaper, they accidentally dropped the ‘p’ and it became ‘laquer’.
"A gentleman saw the advert, and he was a lacquer, a man who did fantastic lacquer paintings. And because the company was making travel cases that happened to have glass and crystal, which was very heavy, he had been thinking about using something more lightweight and decorative.”
The mishap proved to be a positive if unexpected turn in the company’s destiny; the lacquered products became an instant hit and made the company famous.
For those partial to an upscale stogie or two, S.T. Dupont has long been a brand that exemplifies a luxurious smoking experience, with collections featuring ashtrays, clips and of course the lighters that allow the perfect lighting of a fine cigar. The S.T. Dupont By Brizard collection introduces three limited-edition collectibles – just 99 of each area available. A cigar case in precious leather boasts a Spanish cedar lining and removable divides.
The Havana Traveller is perhaps the ultimate gift for the elite world traveller. It is presented with a lighter, cutter, pouches, flask is crafted in genuine alligator leather – choose from brown or grey and blue. A humidor designed for the true enthusiast, meanwhile, can hold up to 50 cigars.
“The outside is made of grey and blue leather with the inside carved in mahogany wood,” notes Crevet. The inside of the lid contains a 360 degree Bovida Humidifier and digital hygrometer. The main compartment of the Humidor allows for optimum air and humidity around the cigars.
More recently, the company has ventured into watchmaking, picking up the historical strands of production from the 1960s and 1970s when it briefly made watches.
“Then, the watches had lacquer finishing, and we wanted to bring it back, and do something different. The watches are unisex and feature a transparent mineral crystal dome with a raised dial, inspired by flowing molten metal,” says Crevet.
Entitled ‘Hyperdome’, the collection is available in six options and comes with a surprisingly affordable price tag for a piece that so clearly embraces myriad aspects of S.T. Dupont craftsmanship and materials including precious leather. “We are going to assemble the watch in France,” reveals Crevet.
“The movements are Swiss, but we wanted to make it using our own know-how at Faverges. We are lucky to have a real mix of workers, from lacquer artisans from older generations to young engineers. The location is so beautiful, that people really want to work there and it’s easier for us to attract the best talent.”
It takes the company around a year to train its new employees to the standard demanded, a standard that is immediately apparent from the first moment that you pick up one of its exquisite items. The watches are unlike anything else on the market within this sector – ideal for a graduation gift or for a conversation starter piece that you might deliberately leave peeking out from the cuff of your blazer. The exceptional craftsmanship is immediately apparent – and this time you don’t need to hold it in your hand, because you can wear it proudly on your wrist.For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.