Prim by Michelle Elie bag, The Nomadic Collector clutch, Hugo Matha clutch, Sarah’s Bags by Sarah Beydoun clutch

Clockwise from left: Prim by Michelle Elie’s cherry wood, lacquered brass and suede bag; The Nomadic Collector’s Costa Rican cocobolo wood and vegetable-dyed leather clutch; Hugo Matha’s walnut and lambskin clutch; A cedar, chestnut and cherry wood clutch from Sarah’s Bags by Sarah Beydoun.

Corey Olsen



Following the recent craze for Plexiglas and Lucite, wood — which has similar design and durability qualities — is gaining steam with a focus more on design than on being green.

Sarah Beydoun of Sarah’s Bags and Hugo Matha revisited the artisanal work of their heritage for design cues, while designers Michelle Elie and Stefani De La O use wood to interpret the artists who inspired them.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2015 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Newcomer Hugo Matha’s signature box-style clutch was inspired by his upbringing in the Aveyron region of France, where he was surrounded by wooden wine barrels, natural forests and wood-crafters. The young Parisian uses “Bois de Marée,” or swamp wood. Submerged under water often for more than 1,700 years and dredged from areas around the Seine and Rhône rivers, the hard, fossilized wood is commonly used in flooring.

Sarah’s Bags are known as much for their embroidery as the people who make them: ex-prostitutes and convicts in Lebanon finding rehabilitation through work. This season, Beydoun used the cedar tree — a national symbol — for her latest collection, based on kitschy Tiki bars.

Lifelong travel inspired Stefani De La O’s The Nomadic Collector collection. Most of her collection is lighter, travel-friendly leather and waterproof linings, but wood is her favorite material. “I lived near a wood-carver’s shop and the smell drew me in.” The bags are made from wood native to her homeland of Costa Rica or Nicaragua.

Haitian-American Michelle Elie’s Prim bags, made in Spain, are inspired by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa. For her Arturo bag, blue Lucite sides resemble glass used to reflect light and compliment the rich cherry wood.

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