Audrey Marnay draped around a very nice Norton...

Founded in 1948, Longchamp of France is best known for its nifty (and very much copied) ‘Le Pliage’ bags, made of vinyl with leather handles, which roll up into a tight cylinder to pack inside a suitcase, and unroll to hold all that extra stuff you bought on your vacation, as a carry-on bag.  Like Dunhill of England, Longchamp started out making accessories for smokers (pipe covers, tobacco pouches), but by the 1950s they’d expanded into other leather goods, scarves, etc.  After the massive success of ‘Le Pliage’ (introduced in 1993), the company expanded into the high-end leather goods and clothing business, with collaborations with the likes of Kate Moss and Tracy Emin bringing attention to the brand.

This Fall, they’ve launched an ad campaign in print, web, and stores, featuring French model Audrey Marnay on a beautiful Norton Commando with Dunstall double front disc brakes and a long-range Gus Kuhn petrol tank.  The Longchamp website features an interactive video game, in which the viewer take the handlebars of a late model Triumph Bonneville (sadly, not the Norton!) on various trips through and around Paris, attempting to find mysterious Audrey and her new handbag. Pity Audrey doesn’t ride the Commando wearing her lovely new gear, nor will you find tasty Britbikes gracing a Longchamp retail establishment (I checked in London and Paris).

Nice bike!  Alloy rims, performance upgrades…in the ‘making of’ video, the Norton logo is white, but the print ads have blacked out our favorite Vampiric font

You know it already, but fashion houses have discovered vintage motorcycles are cool, beautiful, and trés chic. In the September issue of Vogue, you’ll see Longchamp, Ralph Lauren, Dolce and Gabbana, etc, using old bikes in their ads, but while fashion houses love adding kinetic excitement with vintage wheels, long-term collaborations between bikes and couture houses are rare. The likes of Dunhill and Chanel, while using ‘branded’ vintage bikes briefly in advertising (and in Dunhill’s case, actually selling a few very tasty Patrick Godet/Dunhill Egli-Vincents), such a love affair never seems to last.  Maybe its the oil leaks.

Please ride this motorcycle.  The new ‘Balzane’ handbag is supposed to be the star of the show, but I’ll take the bike…
And of course, a Ruby helmet is a must for every moto-fashion shoot!

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