Bags designed with wonderful, whimsical wit
Your handbags are loved by celebrities such as Anne Hathaway. What makes them so right for the red carpet?
I discovered who Anne is the day after the MET Gala! We woke up to great news that sounded like a dream, and it took me some time to realize that she was actually carrying our Cabaret clutch! Bags have symbolic value—they speak a special language that is understood only by other women. I think this is what makes them perfect for the red carpet. When a woman chooses a bag for a special occasion, she’s looking for more than just a bag.
What women do you admire?
Mother Teresa is my icon—she cheers me up whenever I get stuck with something. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is also an icon, who shows me how sweetness can be fiercely strong! I find great comfort in the lives of the saints, because they are so full of adventure, inspiring and touching. They make me yearn for that kind of life. I’m now reading the diaries of Etty Hillesum, who lived in Germany during the Second World War, working selflessly for others even when her own life was risk. She’s my inspirational companion at the moment.
You tell a story with your designs—can you describe one of them?
I can tell you about Cabaret, the clutch Anne Hathaway carried at the MET Ball. In Italy, “cabaret” is the name given to the pastries bought by husbands to share with their families for Sunday lunch. So I thought about it as a declaration of love. The clutch I designed for men is similar. When I designed it I wanted to create a clutch that is a link between men and women, that can be a gift of love—a clutch so special that it’s carried only on very special occasions. I dreamt of a jeweled bag that a man could give to a woman, which she uses only on their evenings together, and which she passes to her daughter as an heirloom, continuing the love from generation to generation. I’m aware of the power of the meaning we give to the things. I know there’s a part of us that can understand this language, and I see this clearly when a man comes into the store to choose a bag for his beloved. He feels and conveys this without any explanation, and it’s so touching to see the care and attention he gives to choosing the best words to write inside. He knows how much this intimacy means to a woman.
What does Swarovski add to your designs?
My mother is a superb cook and my father was a serious farmer, proud of his land and loyal to his animals. She always insisted that in order to make a good dish she needed the best ingredients that only my father could provide. I have to say, her dishes were even more delicious when she was cooking specially for him. What I’m saying is this: if there’s something better, then I will always go for that option—that’s why I choose Swarovski for my designs.
How do you choose and use the crystals? Is there a special technique?
My process is very physical. I don’t design that much; I actually prefer making things with my hands. So, for example, I’m accustomed to creating sculptural designs and positioning the crystals myself. I like to touch each of them and check the radiance—I even kiss them! I feel that making things with my hands adds a different consciousness, creating a strong link that transforms the object.
Your Smiling Moon collection was shot among rocks—how does nature inspire you?
I was raised amid nature. Our company is also situated in a forest, close to a lake where I go every night from May to November to have a restorative bathe after work. Nature is my teacher: it gives me a certain rhythm, it takes care of me, and it makes me feel as though I’m part of something bigger.
Are handbags like artworks for you?
It depends. I consider art as something that communicates on a different level—something that adds meaning. If we consider that a bag reveals and inspires a sense of anger or mystery, then I’d say yes, it can certainly be a piece of art. For me, a beautiful piece that doesn’t prompt any questions is just dust.
What are your plans for using Swarovski crystals in the future?
I dream about a bridal collection that’s tailor-made for every woman. I would like to use Swarovski to crown them one by one. This collection will be ready very soon, and it will be a surprise. I don’t know yet how big and beautiful it’s going to be—a collection is like a love affair: it happens, and you only realize that it’s happening when you’re totally lost inside it!