Lots to Carry

Father of Swiss luxury watch making and accessories company, CHARRIOL, or papa Philippe for our purposes, has been mentoring his pride and joy, daughter Coralie Charriol, for more than 10 years, and it seems his investment is paying off. Recently, Coralie has struck oil from her own entrepreneurial well, a feat that resulted in the CHARRIOL Vice President and Creative Director (read: she knows what she’s doing) venturing into uncharted territory and launching her own independent accessories brand. But not to worry papa, c.lili by Coralie Charriol, whose first distribution channel is QVC, hopes to fill a different void. Whereas Philippe has built CHARRIOL as a luxury brand aimed at the wealthiest consumers looking for fashionable jewelry and Swiss watches, Coralie is targeting a different clientele—the world. Haute Living caught up with the New York-based, French, CHARRIOL-heiress to talk life as everything juxtaposing: business leader and mother, cultural liaison and wife, social staple, world traveler, and most recently, creator of handbag line, c.lili by Coralie Charriol.

HL Part of your role at CHARRIOL is Creative Director in charge of accessory design; how’s that going to work with your new venture?

CC Yes, I’ll still be acting in that capacity at CHARRIOL. Dad wasn’t thrilled at first, but he’s an entrepreneur; he gets that it’s his fault for raising me this way. I will continue to work for my father, promoting his brand around the world, and overseeing the development of our jewelry and leather goods collections as Creative Director. But with c.lili, I want to target a different market. It’s about taking everything I’ve learned and approaching the market differently: I am creating accessories that could sell for $1000, in my opinion, but I am choosing to sell them for $300, to make fashion accessible.

HL So often when lines are made under price restrictions, the quality suffers. I was very impressed with the leather of the c.lili bags and how well finished they were.

CC This is what happens when you have a heritage in this business. I worked for my father designing several collections from scratch, never outsourcing a step, going to Bologna to source the leather, doing the canvas samples by hand, revising the factory samples we designed, and so on. With c.lili, I am building upon those 10 years of experience. I’ve learned to be very price sensitive. It’s about making something that’s great at the appropriate price.

HL Is your decision to go in that direction a direct result of the times?  CC I’m definitely responding to the world around us. People are just more awake and aware. The truth is that the average handbag in America retails for $46.

HL Really? That’s shocking.

CC Of course there are the brands that dictate the trend and are in the $1,000+ range, and that’s great, but the c.lili line is about providing fashion, design, and high-quality genuine leather while meeting customers in the middle on the price point. I think practical women dictate my line.

HL Who is the c.lili woman?

CC She understands luxury; she has taste, but she wants functionality. I really started out with four bags that I needed in my life. They’re actually all inspired by people I know and their individual lifestyles. Anais, for example, is named after my daughter. It’s a messenger bag and it’s perfect for the time I spend with her [in the park, getting ice cream, etc.]