Meet Mélusine Tran, the Designer Who Wants You to Re-Think Your Accessories Game

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A report by Lia McGarrible for High Snobiety.

Yung Creatives is a series profiling talents of tomorrow across various fields, disciplines and mediums. Skilled in commerce and creativity, find out why these guys are generating significant buzz in the industry.

Meet Mélusine Tran, the young designer who wants you to re-think your accessories game. Tran’s label, Death in Paris, combines buttery leather with futuristic-feeling PVC, creating strong structural handbags with peek-a-boo elements, so you can choose what to hide — and what to show off.

But Tran doesn’t just run an international label — her office works between London and Bangkok — she also curates music mixes for the site’s blog to help create a community around the brand, support her girlfriends, and shine a light on “a new generation of talented producers.”

Read on for how Death in Paris emerged from a post-college startup, why she’s chosen to work with transparent materials, and what her typical day-to-day looks like.

How did you first get into designing?

As a kid, I grew up in Martinique in the Caribbean. I got really into classical ballet and was training quite hard. I knew at a very early age that I wanted to do something in art or dance. Later, in my teenage years, it became very intense and I had to stop. After this, I was considering studying arts or economics. I ended up being very bored in economics and switched to study art.

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What drew you to making accessories?

I started Death in Paris as a design studio in Paris straight after school and ended up working for Sony Music and other fashion brands. I soon felt the need for a more a personally fulfilling creative project, and I thankfully met my business partner Natasha around that time. We were hanging out a lot, watching Yakuza movies, eating Korean food, and generally had the same tastes. I am not sure where it came from, but one afternoon we decided to design accessories.

Why do you incorporate so many transparent elements into your bags?

I’ve always been fascinated by see-through materials and distinctive geometric shapes. PVC is a non-traditional material and we use it an unexpected way. With leather goods, sometimes functionality overshadows form but I believe that you can design something intelligent and fun at the same time.

Death in Paris is a “creative studio and brand.” Can you elaborate on that?

I’ve always considered Death in Paris to be an extension of the graphic design studio; there’s more to me than just fashion branding, and designing products was the natural direction for [the brand]. I realized that there was a big gap between high street fashion and high-end luxury brands. Natasha and I have a passion for functional and see-through objects, so it started from there.

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What’s a typical day for you?

Life in London can be very packed. I generally wake up early, hit the gym and squeeze in a few meetings before lunch. I like to work on the go in a coffee shop or from home. Afternoons are dedicated to product design, branding and freelance side projects. In the evenings I’ll try to slow down, and either go play poker in my league or go for a drink at the [bar].

Describe your current style?

I like to be very casual and low key during the weekdays: comfy Asics, a black turtleneck and a pair of jeans. At the weekend I am a little extra: I like to shine bright like a diamond, haha! I am into crystal statement jewelry, see-through materials, PVC, heels and fab make up.

What are your favorite brands?

I like DKNY, Phillip Lim and Korean online stores. I am also into activewear at the moment and totally obsessed by KITH women. I am a big online shopper: I found these crazy, monogrammed Gucci boots [from 2000] and a slick Fendi tracksuit top, which, when paired with my boyfriend’s python jacket, is a winner.

How and why did you decide to name the brand Death in Paris?

The name came from a band I liked — Death in Vegas.

What’s it like working on the brand in both London and Bangkok?

It means that Death in Paris never sleeps. If I am awake, Natasha’s asleep, and vice versa. We are always connected on LINE Messenger. We visit each other when we can. I spent 6 weeks in Asia this summer to work on our new collection.

Do you have a favorite piece you’ve made and why?

Yes, the Eclipse Vermilion — I absolutely love box bags, it’s a statement piece with a mix of transparent and opaque red acrylic Plexiglas. I always get complimented on it when I go out.

What would be your dream collaboration?

A vegan line with Pamela Anderson!

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