You Are Going to Want a Danse Lente Handbag—and For Good Reason


You don’t become an It Bag overnight. Just ask the Birkin, which came on the scene in 1984, or better yet the Chanel 2.55, which debuted in 1929. Greatness takes time! But in less than two years since launch, the do-anything, go-anywhere handbags from Danse Lente have done just that. Proof? On their first day on Moda Operandi, the bags sold more units than any other women’s accessories brand, ever.

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Youngwon Kim

Youngwon Kim

Uniquely shaped, the bags are minimal yet playful—bridging street-style with nimble modernity. A luxury millennial brand that millennials can get afford? It resonates. I recently had the chance to grab tea with designer and founder Youngwon Kim at London’s Ham Yard Hotel ahead of her June pop-up launch in Covent Garden. We talked about her past, present and future—and her boundless love for Picasso.

Did you always want to be a designer?

As a child, I liked music more, so I played a musical instrument. Then I began to think that life is too short to just do one thing. I always liked to draw from my childhood and wanted to try design but never really had a chance. So I figured I would give it a shot.

I originally had more interest in furniture design and architecture. Maybe because of that, many people seem to comment on the architectural influence in my design of footwear or handbags.

Danse Lente Mini Lorna Ocra, $495, shop now

Danse Lente

Your Masters from the London College of Fashion is in footwear. How did you come to design handbags instead?

I find handbags are unique in a sense that they’re detached and further apart from a human body than any other accessories. They can be hung in the air. That means you can design much more freely and worry less about the limitations set by certain body parts. I think that’s very fascinating to begin with. But I love designing footwear very much and I will definitely do a collection one day.

What drew you to the name Danse Lente?

Danse Lente means ‘slow dance’ in French. I see imaginary dance-like movements of people carrying our bags. I hope the brand uplifts people with our bags, a bit like the feeling of dancing, but with elegance and simplicity.

Danse Lente Mini Johnny White Blush, $380, shop now

Danse Lente

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How would you describe Danse Lente’s aesthetic?

Simple but different. Classic but youthful.

What art inspires your work?

It has to be Picasso. I love his work, not only his drawing, but also the lines and shapes of his sculpture, and warm, striking color palettes. He’s just perfect to my eyes in every way! I just admire the way he relentlessly endeavored to express beauty in a very new and fresh way. At the same time, the abstract quality of his work never felt peculiar or over the top, and being able to touch people’s heart with warmth through his work is truly amazing.

I also had a lot of aesthetic inspiration from seeing the works of Joan Miró, Brâncuși and Le Corbusier. I used to like Marcel Duchamp when I was younger because of his revolutionary attempts to experiment and discover new meaning in ordinary pieces of objects. That really stayed with me. Similarly, I also like to deconstruct the existing details and techniques of handbags, and attempt to experiment when I design.

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Danse Lente Mini Phoebe Leather Bag, $380, shop now

Danse Lente

What’s next for Danse Lente?

I have a plan to open a pop-up shop during London fashion week. I haven’t decided where that’s going to be but it’s a very very exciting opportunity to meet customers directly for the first time. I’d love to open one in New York next time.

Danse Lente Johnny Two-Tone Leather Bucket Bag, $385, SHOP NOW


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Danse Lente Lilou Leather Tote, $455, SHOP NOW



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