Olympia Le-Tan’s grandfather was one of Vietnam’s most famous painters, and her father is the celebrated illustrator Pierre Le-Tan. This artistic pedigree — with the help of childhood sewing lessons from her grandmother — has produced one of France’s most impish and inventive fashion designers. After stints at Chanel and Balmain, Le-Tan, a passionate bibliophile, started making embroidered clutches modeled after classic book jackets, from “Ulysses” to “The Catcher in the Rye” to “Star Wars” comics, that have since attracted such hip fans as Tilda Swinton and Michele Williams.
A ready-to-wear clothing line, with each season built around a literary or cinematic theme, soon followed, and is now available at her charming boutique near the Palais-Royal in the 2nd arrondissement. Le-Tan’s fall collection was inspired by Hitchcock films, while her upcoming cruise 2018 line draws upon both Agatha Christie mysteries and Marvel Comics. The only downside?
“I don’t read that much anymore,” she admits, “because I have too much work.”
1. SANTA MARIA DE NOVELLA ROSE COLOGNE
I ate there every day last time I was in New York. So delicious and healthy.
3. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO
My all-time favorite movie. I can watch it over and over again. It’s sweet and poetic but also has a tiny bit of a dark side. My Totoro mechanical toy sits on my mantelpiece, and I love looking at him every day.
4. MY TURQUOISE BIANCHI MINI-BIKE
I brought it all the way back from Tokyo. It’s the least convenient bicycle I’ve ever owned but it’s so pretty it’s the only one I want to use. $4,000
5. WAITRESS BY ALLEN JONES
The most inspiring book of all time. I’m obsessed with the sexy, powerful women he portrays. I was lucky enough to sit next to him at a dinner party once.
6. ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE
I was talking about him with my 98-year-old grandmother the other day. She said how much she admires his work, which surprised me considering her age and the subjects in his pictures. It made me love him even more.
7. JOHN WILLIE
Another sexy artist who I often look at for inspiration. I even made a few clutches with his fabulous covers of “Bizarre.”
8. PAUL ROTHE & SON
I have to get a cheese and marmite sandwich from there every morning when I am in London. I love traditional family run places.
All the kids in England drink this black current cordial mixed with hot water when they’re sick. It’s very comforting. $23
10. KATE BUSH
I can listen to her for days. Particularly “The Kick Inside.” And I always sing her songs at karaoke.
11. MY UNCLE OSWALD BY ROALD DAHL
Such a twisted and funny book. Roald Dahl was my favorite writer when I was a child, but I hadn’t really read his adult books until a few years ago, and now I am addicted. $16
12. FISKARS SCISSORS
The smallest pointy ones are the best to cut out the tiny pieces of felt for my book-clutch embroideries. And as a lefty, they are the only ones that don’t hurt my thumb when I’m cutting. $15