In a recent meeting with a highly successful luxury brand expert, he said to me, “Elisabeth, personalization is not a trend, it is a new way of being. Everyone wants to feel like a designer.” These words stuck with me and it’s something I find myself reflecting on often. As I seek current fashion and style (something you know I love to do!), I find myself being drawn to products that are esthetically beautiful and interesting. But more and more often, I do want a style that fits me personally, something I can customize so its uniquely mine.
As the universe sometimes likes to work its magic in mysterious ways, into my life walks Claudia Ravnbo, founder and designer of the bespoke and one-of-kind handbag brand, Maison Ravn. We immediately clicked as friends, but also as two businesspeople who understand and appreciate design, quality, and creativity. This led to a deeper conversation about our brands and how we could work together more closely. I am thrilled to announce that Gift Me Chic is exclusively launching the Maison Ravn brand in the U.S.!
Claudia, a natural beauty, is a warm, magnetic, and stylish women. And one of the most genuine people I know. She was born in Norway and now resides in Paris. Her atelier is located inside her chic Parisian apartment and is a designer’s dream. The shelves on the walls are filled with rolls of brightly colored fabrics, leather skins, and bag straps. In the center is a large workstation where her team is busy cutting, sewing, and assembling each handbag.
Claudia works in two ways. Every season she creates a new Maison Ravn collection based on her inspirations of the season. And she co-designs bags directly with clients. Maison Ravn offers numerous options so there is a bag size to fit a multitude of uses and personalities. For her one-of-a-kind designed creations, she combines elements of Norwegian folklore and Parisian chic into each handbag. The inside flap of each bag is lined with a special fabric that Claudia has sourced during her global travels, and it can be personalized with the client’s initials or words of their choice.
For those looking for an even more bespoke experience, Claudia co-designs bags directly with her clients, either remotely or in person. She first understands their personal taste and way of life to help determine which style bag suits their lifestyle. Then the collaboration begins! Each client is free to use a piece of fabric that is special and dear to them. Any sentimental relic is welcomed to help create an even more custom-made treasure.
I had the privilege to co-design with Claudia a special Baby Ravn handbag. While all Maison Ravn bags are one-of-a-kind, she made a little exception for me and Gift Me Chic. And you! The Maison Ravn x Gift Me Chic handbag, The Elisabeth, is available to purchase. Just know that you and I will be walking down the street with the same beautifully crafted Maison Ravn handbag… I am so excited to share this gift with you!
What inspired you to create Maison Ravn? And how did you take that initial inspiration to the next level of creation?
I was living in Geneva when I began to realize that the must-have bags of the season, while beautiful and well designed, lacked a unique personality. And they were just that, seasonal, which meant I was bound to buy the next “it” bag as soon as the fashion houses released their newest design.As an interior designer by trade, I was constantly immersed in fabrics and always on the hunt for unique and precious finds. I was told early on by a mentor that when selecting fabrics, I should hold them up in the mirror to gain a different perspective. One afternoon, I did just this and rested the fabric on my hip, and it was in this moment while looking the mirror that the beauty of the fabric next to my body gave me an idea. This led me to create and design my own personal bag. I found a woman to help me construct the bag made of my selected precious materials. This was not an inexpensive endeavor nor was it a quick process, but in the end, I had a one-of-a-kind design. And it was gorgeous!A month later, I met Kate Moss. We shared a glass of champagne and she noted how much she loved my bag. So, I gave it to her. And this is when I began to reflect on the creative process of the past several months. Each woman is unique, and she deserves a creation that matches her personality. The long and winding path to creating a brand was born, and I was all in!So, to answer your question: I guess it was a realized need coupled with a personal experience that took me on the path to found Maison Ravn.
You describe the Maison Ravn brand as a “mingling of Norwegian folklore and Parisian chic.” But if you had to describe Maison Ravn in only three words, what comes to mind?
Tradition. Timeless. Unique.
Once you have an idea for a new bag, how does the creative process work for you and your team?
I am constantly in a creative state of mind. My friends would call me hyperactive and I wouldn’t disagree! No matter where I am, I am discovering new fabrics and using the environment and culture around me for inspiration. In the end, I know what I love, it becomes obvious quite quickly. With this said, teamwork is very important to Maison Ravn. So, it’s not just me, it’s our team who comes up with about 50 ideas, together we choose three or four and then go to prototyping. From there we create five or six options and then decide on the design for the final product.
How would you describe the Maison Ravn customer?
She is eclectic, open-minded, strong, and curious. One who loves adventure and is not afraid to break boundaries! Status symbols are not her “fashion-driver,” it’s her desire to have a unique piece of art made especially for her, that she appreciates.We are learning that women, especially younger generations, don’t desire “fast fashion” anymore. They are willing to be a part of the creative process with us and appreciate our sustainability-first approach to design and creation. We reuse fabrics from all over the world, we don’t manufacture our own. An 18th century piece of embroidered linen may just be the perfect, delicate touch for a bag. And if I find it in light blue, even better!
I know we both love to travel! So, if you had to choose between one of the five bags you design and create (Mini Ravn, Baby Ravn, The Tote, Big Baby, and Daily Ravn) which couldn’t you live without while traveling, and why?
This is an easy question! My Baby Ravn. I could not live without it. It’s versatile since you have the option to use it as a clutch by night or with a strap during the day. And it’s the perfect size for everything I like to cram in it!
What is your favorite go-to gift to bring to a gathering at a friend's house to say, “thank you for having me”? And what has been a favorite gift you’ve received?
Macaroons. You can’t go wrong with macaroons. They are delicate and flavorful. I think they say thank you quite nicely. And I love candles. They create a beautiful light and aroma combination that puts me at ease. I recently received a Kilian candle that I can’t get enough of. And I am not just saying that because you gave it to me a few months ago when you were here designing your bag!
Where do you go to find peace from busy city life? A place that really makes you unwind, dream, and rest?
What a good question! I go to my home in the countryside. I love to garden, ride horses, get a massage, sit by the fire. I quite often find myself just relaxing curled up in my favorite chair. I also spend a lot of time with my children and have friends over to visit; times when good wine is often being enjoyed!
One last question, and it’s a personal and intimate one… What’s a “guilty pleasure” of yours?
Champagne and chocolate. Anytime. Anywhere.
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