Paris is like stepping into the past. It’s quiet, serene and beautiful… – Kasia Dietz
In the heart of North Marais, the fashionable and artistic neighborhood known as Boboland, handbag designer and freelance journalist Kasia Dietz makes her home with her husband. A former New Yorker, Kasia fell in love with Paris while visiting the city during her student days and has been living in the City of Light for the past nine years.
In addition to creating beautiful bags, she offers workshops and fashion tours around Paris giving attendees a taste of the Parisian life and a chance to bring a one of kind souvenir back home. She also works as a freelance journalist writing for the UK’s Independent, BonjourParis.com and FranceToday.com just to name a few.
Kenya Bag in a Paris Cafe
You first visited Paris when you were a student. What was it about Paris that made you fall in love with the city the moment you arrived?
The feeling of timelessness in Paris captivated me, not to mention the city’s ethereal beauty. Strolling the winding cobbled streets from the right bank to the left, my soul felt at home from that very first visit.
When did you first come up with the idea of designing handbags?
I’ve always loved creating, even from a young age. I noticed a lack of stylish everyday totes and began sewing and hand-painting bags to create what I consider ‘wearable art’. This led to other bag collections inspired by art, design, and travel, all limited edition much like artwork, and reversible to give the bags a fun twist.
Photo by Chloe Lodge
Your handbags have been featured in Vogue UK, Stylist, Marie Claire France and Lucky Magazine to name a few. What was it like seeing one of your pieces in print for the first time?
Every time I see my bags featured online or in print, I’m absolutely thrilled and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s so fulfilling to know that others enjoy what I’m creating and appreciate my vision.
I love the ‘Palais Royal’ clutches that you’ve created. Do you have a particular handbag collection that enjoyed making the most?
Every bag collection is inspired by art and design or my travels, so all the collections are an exciting process. Recently, I absolutely loved creating the Downtown collection, inspired by my many years of living in downtown New York, a city close to my heart.
Where do you source the fabrics that you use to create your handbags and clutches?
Many of my fabrics come from Paris, some even being designer remnants including Yves Saint Laurent or Christian Lacroix. I also buy fabrics from the Netherlands and select clutches are made from Ikat fabrics sourced from my favorite supplier at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. It all depends on what catches my eye!
Île Saint Louis
You offer several handbag workshops including one where attendees can spend their morning in a beautiful cafe in St. Germain. What do you enjoy the most about having these workshops to create one of a kind handbags?
I absolutely love helping others to create what’s in their mind’s eye and to see their designs come to life on a bag. Also, what better souvenir than a hand-painted tote bag from a visit to Paris?
You and your husband make your home in the fashionable and artistic North Marais neighborhood also known as Boboland (“Bourgeois Bohemian land”). What drew you to making this particular neighborhood your home?
Ever since I first began visiting Paris, I’ve always been drawn to the rive droite, particularly the Marais for its casual elegance. When I moved to Paris, we lived nearby the Picasso Museum and I fell in love with the neighborhood! It truly feels like a village, albeit a very design savvy one with some of Paris’s best coffee shops and independent boutiques. I also love how much the neighborhood evolves yet remains rooted in history.
If someone wanted to spend a day in just the North Marais neighborhood, where are some of the places that would make up the perfect experience?
A favorite local eatery for breakfast is Wild and the Moon where you can dine gluten-free and drink freshly pressed juices to your hearts content. Another healthy hotspot is Season, and latest addition Café Berry has become a new favorite. For the best café crème head directly to Café Loustic or The Broken Arm, the latter is also a Nordic fashion boutique. I can’t forget Boot Café, Paris’s smallest coffee spot, and Fragments. (Did I already mention the North Marais has the best cafes?) For dinner, Carbon is a chic address. Be sure to stop by historic market Les Enfants Rouge where you can dine on cuisine from around the world, and Square du Temple park. Oh, and there’s also one of my favorite chocolatiers Jacques Genin. I can go on…
On one of your Fashion tours, attendees have the opportunity to visit some of the local designers in Haute Marais. Who are a few of the local designers that you enjoy introducing to the attendees?
A few favorite local designers are Mari at Koshka Mashka who creates timelessly chic designs, Zoe Lee for shoes as art, and Anika Skarstrom for more edgy pieces for both women and men. I recently wrote article Why Haut Marais is Paris’s Coolest Designer District for UK’s Independent which is all about the neighborhood’s fashionable side.
In addition to designing one of a kind handbags and giving fashion tours in Paris, you also write articles for publications such as BonjourParis.com and FranceToday.com is there an article or articles that you’ve enjoyed researching/writing the most?
Every writing assignment is a new and exciting challenge, and often involves research and travel, which always proves an adventure. A favorite piece for Rhapsody magazine detailed Yves Saint Laurent’s homes both in Paris and in Marrakesh. One particular article that helped me to get through last winter was researching the best hammams in Paris. What a treat!
Where is the best place in Paris for ‘people watching’?
Café Saint-Régis on Île Saint-Louis is my favorite cafe for both an apéritif and the French art of people watching. It’s also one of the most beautiful spots in Paris!
Café Saint Regis | Photo by Chloe Lodge
For someone visiting Paris for the first time, what would you say is a place that every first time visitor should experience while in the City of Light?
There are so many must see spots in Paris! One of my favorites is Place des Vosges, the city’s most picture perfect square formerly known as Place Royale. Here too you can visit what was once the home of Victor Hugo and stroll through the neighboring Marais.
Photos taken by Kasia Dietz except where noted.