For Carla Braccialini, a handbag is not merely an accessory. It's a metaphor for the individual.
"In your handbag, there's all your life,'' observed Braccialini, the Florentine founder and chief designer of the 54-year-old handbag brand bearing her name.
Braccialini's whimsical and colorful patchwork designs, often inspired by fairy tales, florals and butterfly motifs, quietly arrived in New York's SoHo a month ago. The family-run business, headed by Braccialini and her sons, Riccardo, Massimo and Lorenzo, will mark its U.S. debut with a private party tonight at MarieBelle.
The 350-square-foot Braccialini shop, situated at 436 West Broadway at Prince Street, has the steel rose logo in the center of the store, black marble floors, lots of mirrors and a tall window displaying a flourish of styles from imaginative artful pieces, such as the $1,300 Farfalla bag in lambskin napa with a vinyl pearl finish and Swarovski crystals, to classic styles such as the Phuket, priced at $470, in lacquered microfiber and "hot pressed" with a taxi design.
Within the tight SoHo space, offerings also include perforated lambskin bags with butterfly patterns, priced at $940; limited edition leather patchwork Cinderella- or Pinocchio-themed bags for $399, as well as heavily detailed leather bags priced at $1,200, and animal key chains priced at $65 to $85. Among the bestsellers is the Puss 'n Boots-themed Cartoline cotton canvas bag embellished with embroidery and appliqué, priced at $331.
Typically, Braccialini works in leather, velvet, brocade, beads, crystals and silk. She refers to the collection as a "hybrid of materials, meanings and aesthetics."
The company has grown through store openings, with 26 operating in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and license agreements with Vivienne Westwood, Warner Bros. Inc.'s Looney Tunes and Mariella Burani. In 2000, the Mariella Burani Fashion Group became the major shareholder, furthering growth initiatives, one of which will be national advertising in the U.S. beginning in the fall.
Without the benefit of any marketing, the SoHo shop has been off to a good start, surpassing its first-month sales objective and generating more than $45,000, according to Emilia Pedulla, who has become the exclusive franchisee for Braccialini in the U.S. and already owns and manages three Braccialini stores in Italy, with a fourth in the works.She has a cautious U.S. growth plan. "I am looking at other areas, which, like SoHo, are vibrant [and] provide iconic design offerings, and where you have affluent local and international clientele who enjoy life from different points of view, not only fashion." Specifically, she is seeking to open Braccialini shops in Miami, Los Angeles and Washington within three years.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast