With knives as distinct and historically relevant as Laguiole, it was only a matter of time before these beautifully forged blades took shape as a dedicated cigar cutter. Now, after years and years of gracing the finest linens of the finest restaurants, the classic cutlery has finally found its way to the world of smoking accoutrements.
Before you even consider using a Laguiole, you should know how to pronounce it (Lay-ol). You should also know the narrative. The story started in 1828, when a local blacksmith in the French village of Laguiole hammered out the town’s first folding knife. A few decades later, as knife-making developed into a local industry, designer Pierre Jean Calmels refined the rustic pattern, giving the handle its signature sinuous shape and finishing each piece with ornamental flourishes that ranged from blooming flowers to bumblebees. Two world wars, however, depleted the town’s manpower and eventually wiped out production. The forge closed in 1950.
But in 1987, the workshop reopened as Forge de Laguiole under the direction of designer Philippe Starck. Today, the Forge has translated all of Laguiole’s defining craftsmanship directly onto these handmade cigar cutters ($255), which are rich in subtle details.
Notice how the engraved pattern along the bottom brings together the signature hand-chiseled bumblebee as well as the riveted “shepherd’s cross” in the contoured handle. Forged in France’s Laguiole proper, the blades are made from a Z40 C13 steel. Three handle types are available: horn tip (top), juniper (middle) or thuya (bottom). The folding action is fluid, the scissor action smooth, the cut clean.
In your quest for all things Laguiole, beware cheap imitations. The name was never patented so, unlike legally protected denominations of origin such as Champagne, any chintzy steak knife company can use the Laguiole name and try to mimic the design.
So-called “Laguioles” are manufactured all over the world with varying degrees of quality—mostly poor. So when your fancy friends throw their next dinner party and set the table with possible Laguiole look-alikes, just remember this upon discreet inspection: if you don’t see the exact words “Forge de Laguiole” on the blade, it’s not the real thing.