Tyler Ellis - "It's Pretty Clutch"
Awards season is upon us again, returning with raging film snobbery and an endless red-carpet parade, with designer one-upmanship among the extravagantly trussed stars, glittering in their borrowed gems and posing in towering heels.
But one red carpet essential remains consistently on the radar of those with a discerning eye: a classic envelope clutch in demure satin or rich crushed velvet in an array of jewel or muted tones.
The Lee pouchet, (as this staple of Hollywood’s glitterati has become known) is the LA accessory designer Tyler Ellis’ best-selling clutch and draws inspiration from the handwritten envelope that her father, fashion designer Perry Ellis left to her as a child on her first birthday, shortly before he tragically passed away in from AIDS in 1986. His penmanship was later taken from this today forms the Tyler Ellis logo.
We caught up with the pretty LA native to talk us through her signature design, which in later years we are sure will join the ranks of iconic classics like the Chanel 2.55, the Hermès Birkin and the Fendi Baguette.
“For me it’s the antithesis of the “It bag” the style was originally created for the red carpet as the perfect complement to the dress. Stylists were looking for sleek, monotone clutches that were small enough to not appear bulky, yet still hold all of the essentials with minimal hardware. It’s like a timeless chameleon and I love its versatility…it can play either a starring or supporting role to the look…What’s more it’s season-less and will remain relevant for years to come. I am born and raised in LA, so the casual and relaxed vibe of the West Coast lifestyle is fully engrained in me. I like to carry mine as a cross body with the optional chain strap to dress up a pair of jeans and a t-shirt”
Named after Lee Gonzalez a friend of the designer (who was formerly the in-house stylist at Carolina Herrera and was highly influential in the early days of building the Tyler Ellis brand) the clutch debuted in 2016 with actress Amy Adams being the first celebrity to carry it.
“The beauty of the Lee is that it wasn’t about reinventing the wheel. I took a basic rectangular envelope shape and tweaked it to become more square, so it appears smaller, yet still holds the same amount as the typical rectangular envelope. Next is the unique structure of the silhouette. You will not see protrusions of any elements carried inside, as its semi-structured bodice insures protection and durability. The sleek structure is very difficult to produce because the semi-structured shape is still malleable and the rounded base is purposefully designed to feel comfortable in the hand- a technique only highly trained artisans can achieve. Finally, the hand-stitched detailing on the edges adds an elevated and artisanal touch reinforcing the top Italian craftsmanship that I am so proud to work with.”
Handcrafted in the renowned leather region of “Le Sieci” in Florence, each pouchet takes approximately 2 days to assemble by a team of indigenous Italian artisans (many of which have 20 to 40 years of experience working with leather goods).
“The material usually satin, velvet or leather is first laid out on a cutting bench, where a specialised artisan positions the paper pattern, searching for an area free of defects and looking for the right cutting position to combine the texture and characteristics of the material so that once assembled the bag has all of the pieces fully composed and continuous with each other.
Next the type of reinforcement is selected, based on the material. If it’s soft, a more rigid reinforcement is used, if it’s sturdier one that holds shape in certain areas is chosen.
Once the external material, lining and reinforcements have been cut, the pieces are passed onto another craftsman who takes care of making the first assembly between reinforcements and materials, assembling the reinforcement behind both the external part and the internal lining. Great care is taken in positioning the reinforcements in all the right places in order to bring all of the components to the same thickness. This thickness varies according to the type of material used so that all Lees have the same hand regardless of the material employed. In the meantime, the warehouse manager prepares the accessories in the required colors examining them to ensure they are free of defects.
Subsequently the clutch is then sent to another floor where it is assembled and sewn entirely by hand. Each time it is assembled by a single person who takes the upmost care of creating the painted colored edges. The colors used for the edges are done in a special artisanal way by mixing basic colours to obtain the exact colour of the leather. Once completed the bag is sent to the cleaning room where it is inspected for defects or imperfections using a special light”
Available in 3 sizes in a wide assortment of fabrics and colors (Tyler Ellis also offers a custom dye and monogramming service), the Lee pouchet retails from $1250 -$3000.