Mylène Pratt: The Leather-Working Canadian of Belleville

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Mylène Pratt: The Leather-Working Canadian of Belleville
On a cold, gray day in Paris, I carefully steer my bicycle as its wheels bump down the uneven cobblestones of the rue du Faubourg du Temple in lower Belleville. My destination? Mylène Pratt’s atelier-boutique, or leather workshop and showroom, in the tiny rue Deguerry. Mylène is a fine gueule or foodie who progressed from graphic artist to crafting not only fine leather handbags but gorgeous objects for restaurants and wine bars. Photo © Mylène Pratt The first thing that hits me when I enter the shop is the rich, sweet smell of leather. The heady aromas evoke a tack room full of well-oiled saddles, or that deep leather armchair sitting in a corner of your grandparents’ country farmhouse. Which, of course, makes sense: Mylène’s shop is full of brightly-colored and more natural-hued rolls of leather, poking out playfully from every corner. And every place that isn’t filled with the raw materials of her work, you’ll find bags, wallets, and even shelf supports, all made of leather. But if you look more closely, you’ll also find on her workbench the specialized objects destined for the restaurant industry. Mylène’s shop in the rue Deguerry. Photo © Mylène Pratt Mylène Pratt is a former illustrator who’s become well-known to ordinary Parisians as the Montréal native who creates gorgeous, supple handbags. But in the Parisian world of restaurants and wine bars, her name is synonymous with bespoke leather goods like thick embossed menu and wine menu covers, as well as the smaller cases designed to bring restaurant customers their bill with style. So how did Mylène find herself the leather-working darling of the Parisian food world? It turns out that Mylène, besides being quite the fine gueule or foodie, is no stranger to the world of hospitality. Like many restaurant and bar employees, Mylène was drawn to working in wine shops and restaurants out of necessity. But the similarities with the sometimes-begrudging attitude found in these incidental service workers ends there: Mylène has hospitality in her blood. When we met several years ago, she was the smiling face behind the counter at my local wine shop. There, she was generous in her wine advice, and her affable personality fit well with the context of the shop, located in the 20th district, one known for its village-like atmosphere and unpretentious inhabitants. From there, Mylène helped out a couple of friends when they opened their tiny restaurant in the rue Dénoyez in Belleville, serving up natural wines and the freshest daily specials from the restaurant’s miniscule kitchen. Mylène also worked at the wine bar of l’Ébauchoir, a popular restaurant in the trendy Aligre market area of Paris. The relationships she formed when working in these establishments have been invaluable for her leather business. She describes how working with restaurateurs was a natural evolution of her leather-working business, and a way to unite her two unique passions: creativity and hospitality. Mylène crafts fine leather covers for restaurant menus. Photo © Mylène Pratt
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Lead photo credit : Photo credit © Mylène Pratt maroquinerie, Facebook

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Allison Zinder is a gastronomy guide and culinary educator working in French food, culture, history, and art. A certified chef and pastry chef, she offers market tours, food history tours, food-related Study Abroad programs, and Food & Beverage courses at hospitality schools in Paris. Allison has lived in France for 25 years. She is passionate about sharing her deep cultural knowledge, and has created engaging educational experiences for over 4000 clients.

Comments

  • Deborah LaTorre
    2021-01-30 06:07:43
    Deborah LaTorre
    Dear Bonjour Paris, Thank you for this article about this leather shop. I purchased a lovely wallet as a gift for a good friend a few years ago and could not recall where the little shop was. As soon as I saw the photo, I knew that it was the same place. I can't wait to go back to Paris and visit her shop again so that I can buy something for myself. The quality of the leather is just wonderful...Thank you again!

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