(At the Mill Pond with my favourite Aigner)
I wore a lot of hand-me-downs growing up and it was like Christmas morning when my cousins dropped by Grandma's house with a bag of clothes they'd outgrown. I distinctly remember a lilac crewneck sweater with my cousin's initials embroidered at the chest: KLG. In recent days I happily pick up anything with initials or embellished with a monogram - it's that extra layer of personality to feed my daydreams of how an item made it from there to here. There's one initial that sets my heart a-flutter more than any other though, and it's that magical horseshoe 'A' symbolizing all things Etienne Aigner.
Etienne Aigner was born in Ersevjivan, Hungary, in 1904 and at age 20 came to Paris to pursue bookbinding. After apprenticeships in Paris with Dior and Balenciaga, Aigner made his way to New York in 1949 and began making belts out of his apartment. He produced his designs in a single shade of leather, a burgundy often referred to as 'oxblood red' or 'antic red'. By the time he opened his first showroom in 1959 he had added scarves, gloves and handbags. Practically every item in the collection was marked by the initial “A” - he fashioned the logo after his own monogram, an 'A' shaped into a horseshoe.
Etienne Aigner describes itself as 'a German brand with Italian soul, melding German precision with Tuscan tradition, with motives and monogram especially, deriving from equestrian themes as inspiration'.
Another Aigner signature was his use of very unusual materials for the time. Among the first designers to pair linen, straw and fisherman’s net with leather, he also drew inspiration from and was fascinated with all forms of hardware. Aigner constantly sought out and acquired on his frequent flea market expeditions in the US and abroad a wide assortment of unusual and other one-of-a-kind decorative hardware items that he translated into finishing touches for handbags and shoes.Aigner died in 2000 but the label lives on through everything from bags to shoes, scarves to jewellery. For me, his “it” bags of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s (even into the 80's) stand timeless and classic against the more recent designs. Navy, oxblood, tan and grey, oh my - to find an Aigner satchel, trench, pair of shoes or (most recently) gloves makes my day at the thrifts.
My favourite Aigner find is actually a gift. The handbag I'm carrying above was bought by my friend Danita for $1.00 at an estate sale. After she got a bit of use out of it (and after I swooned over it repeatedly) she gave it to me!So. . .do you have a cherished Aigner in your wardrobe or hanging on your arm?
Bio adapted from the Etienne Aigner company website Photos collected from Etsy and ebay