I first met Jonathan in 2008 when discovering his beautiful store in Paris; He took me to his atelier above the store, "les petites mains" were busy making gorgeous evening dresses. Some days Jonathan is a fashion designer, other days he is an interior designer and architect, and painter and more.
He has lived in India, in Russia, in Europe, in America, he now lives in Hong Kong.
If I didn’t know him, perhaps I would not believe all of the above, but after all these years I can truly say, Jonathan is an artist.
His new passion: giving iconic bags a second life.
Tell us about your journey - through India, Russia, China - what took you there? Love?
I love to travel and am obsessed with discovering new cultures, crafts and ancient treasures of individual countries. India was the shahtoosh, jewellery and embroidery; Russia was yarn and manufacturing in enormous soviet-era factories; China for the discovery of infinite treasures. I am a nomad at heart and constantly curious for creative inspiration.
Back in Paris, you founded Jay Ahr in 2005, what is Jay Ahr?The name 'Jay Ahr' is the phonetic spelling of my initials and initially I was dedicated to dresses, looking to create the dress as 'an object' with thousands of structural declinations. You could say it was my three dimensional canvas.
You have created unique works of art on iconic bags, how did you come up with the idea?I love to experiment and from the beginning there has always been a part of my work that has focused on transformation: whether re-conditioning antique jewellery; converting old spaces into modern ateliers; or creating 'first of a kind' workshop collaborations with major brands. In 2017, I started to conceptualize and plan my next project and wanted to extend the transformation work to individual iconic pieces. I chose the Louis Vuitton Keepall first as I also love the idea of embedding the provenance and history of the piece into my designs. The Keepall has been produced since 1930 and can be found literally all over the world so it was the perfect canvas. Hermes was next. Not only because it is the most iconic and coveted of all the bags, but also because within a few styles they have an incredible diversity of colours and leathers which again offer an amazing canvas.
Your next project ?
You know the snake embroidery you love so much on the Hermes bag? Wait till you see how I am going to transform an old building...