André Saraiva on Graffiti as Art: 'It Gave Me Both a Raison d’être and a Sense of Freedom' - Lookbook

The Parisian artist has made his mark on the art world and on the streets of the French capital.

Longchamp has just announced a collaboration with André Saraiva. The Parisian graffiti artist is known for spreading humor and happiness through his jaunty character Mr. A, be that on the walls of the French capital or other cities in the world.

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“Years ago, one of our first Paris showrooms was a rented space near Place de la Concorde,” says Longchamp creative director Sophie Delafontaine. “When we moved in, we discovered André had been there before us—because right there, on the back of a door, was Mr. A. You could say that was our first meeting. We eventually left the showroom, but we kept the door!”

With a few bold strokes of his pen, André transformed four formats of the brand’s Le Pliage—all in recycled nylon—into three variations of Mr. A and one of his companion, Mrs. A, who bats her eyelashes and blows a kiss.

“The designs are typical André: full of energy, poetry and positivity,” says Sophie Delafontaine. “Everyone knows that Le Pliage is a favourite canvas for artists, but this is the first time it has actually become a character!”

The colors nod to André’s pop palette. “I’m in my pink and blue period,” quips the artist about his choice of candy pink and sky blue, adding that he particularly loves to work with pink because “it’s the only color that marries with all the others.” The range is completed by graphic black and a particularly vibrant take on Longchamp’s signature green.

A special request from André was to create a leather version of its Le Pliage travel bag that he could take with him on his frequent trips around the world. Longchamp selected a natural calf leather that will acquire a beautiful patina over time, while André revisited the brand’s racehorse medallion in his own inimitable style.

The final highlight of the collaboration is a limited edition of 200 small Le Pliage bags in recycled polyester canvas, printed in pink and blue with Mr. A motifs, which will be customized directly by André. Each bag will be totally unique and individually numbered.

Here are more snippets from Longchamp’s conversation with Delafontaine and the artist:

Why André?

Delafontaine: Because he is both a Parisian artist and an international artist whose work we love—it is full of energy, poetry and positivity, and it has lit up the walls of Paris for years. Quite apart from that, André has great personal elegance.

André, you are very much associated with Paris. What does Paris represent for you?

André: Paris is a city of contradictions, starting with its juxtaposition of classicism and modernity. Every time I come back to Paris and cross the Seine, I just think: “Wow!” It’s so beautiful. And then, of course, there’s love. There’s lots of love in Paris!

André Saraiva and Sophie Delafontaine

Why did you choose graffiti as your mode of artistic expression?

André: I started very young, it just seemed so natural that I didn’t even ask myself the question. It gave me both a raison d’être and a sense of freedom, of being different. I’m still doing it—it’s something that is necessary for me.

And now you get to graffiti Longchamp’s Le Pliage…

André: For me, Le Pliage epitomizes simplicity and practicality which transcend time and fashion trends. That also makes it a great canvas for artistic expression.

Sophie Delafontaine: Obviously, Le Pliage has been the subject of numerous creative collaborations, but I think it is fair to say that, for the first time ever, André has actually transformed it into a character!

André: That’s true—every bag is a different character!

For the main Le Pliage collaboration, you chose recycled nylon canvas and a color palette of black, green, pink and blue. Why?

Delafontaine: The recycled nylon is part of Longchamp’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, following on from our launch last year of Le Pliage Green. The colors draw on the urban landscape and André’s color palette, as well as our signature green. The energizing effect of color was something that really brought us together.

The collection also includes a travel bag in natural calf leather…

André: I love all the bags, but this is possibly my favourite, because Longchamp practically made it just for me.

Delafontaine: André really wanted a leather bag to take with him on his travels. He mimed the action of how he would sling it over his shoulder. Obviously, the natural leather is a nod to Longchamp’s heritage, and it will take on a beautiful patina over time.

The bag is embossed with André’s reinterpretation of the Longchamp racehorse medallion…

Sophie Delafontaine: For me, the new medallion—with the racehorse galloping on a background of a heart and the winking eyes of Mr. A—is really the signature of the collaboration, a true combination of André and Longchamp. We use the circular medallion on the zip pull of Le Pliage, while André works with circles all the time.

André: So much so, that I can draw a perfect circle with my eyes closed!

Banner Photo from @andresaraiva on IG

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