April in Paris is the boutique and workshop of master leather artisan Béatrice Amblard. The sleek, sun-drenched location on colorful Clement Street is well known to Bay Area devotees for its extraordinary custom accessories. All items are handcrafted using centuries-old traditional methods, and every item is one-of-a-kind.
French born Amblard has more than 30 years of experience in her uncommon trade. She was just 16 when she enrolled in the prestigious Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris. Immediately after graduation, Amblard was hired by Hermès in Paris as an apprentice leather artisan. In 1987, Hermès invited her to San Francisco as an “Ambassador” to their newly opened San Francisco boutique. Amblard was only the second Hermès employee to work in the U.S. After working on the infamous “Kelly” bag and designing custom leather goods for fourteen years, Béatrice launched her own line, April in Paris at a South of Market workshop. She quickly built up a loyal following and in 2000, Amblard expanded her business and opened a boutique and workshop on Clement Street. Béatrice is the only Hermès artisan designing under her own label, as well as owning her own boutique, in the United States.
Amblard is best known for her custom handbags, finished with the classic saddle stitch, in the same tradition that has been done for over 200 years. All of her bags are marked with her logo, an 18-karat gold or sterling silver bee. The bee represents the shortened version of her name, Béatrice, and it is what everyone calls her.
In addition to handbags, Amblard designs an array of accessories including: briefcases, wallets, watchstraps, belts, coin purses, checkbook holders, and home accessories. She has also designed larger items such as furniture, car and plane interiors. She can create virtually anything a customer desires. Amblard also has her own line of gold and silver jewelry and accessories featuring her trademark bee logo. Items include money clips, key chains, bookmarks, rings, earrings, and belt buckles.
Clients have the pleasure of working personally with Amblard to design their creations. Clients may select from a large inventory of leathers that are kept on the premises, as well as from an enormous array of swatch cards. Amblard works primarily with French tanneries and uses only the finest leathers. She uses a variety of leathers including calf, alligator, ostrich, lizard, and stingray. Custom colors may be ordered at the request of the client. Currently, there is a five-month wait for a custom handbag because Amblard’s work has become so coveted. If a client simply cannot wait, there are plenty of beautiful handmade bags and accessories in stock and for sale at the boutique.
In the fashion world, where almost everything is mass produced, it is the ultimate luxury to own a custom handcrafted leather accessories. One would be hard pressed to find more astonishingly beautiful leather accessories than what is found at Béatrice Amblard’s April in Paris.