Les Petits Joueurs, the bright, graphic luxury handbag brand based in Florence, this week opened its first store, a 862-square-foot flagship in that city.
Founder and creative director Maria Sole Cecchi doesn’t take things too seriously, giving a wink here and a nod there to popular culture, often literally — on the front of her Eyes handbag, a pair of eyes made from Lego bricks, (995 euros or $1,116 at current exchange) cast their gaze askance.
The store on Via de’ Tornabuoni in the Florence’s historic shopping district is also playful with a bold black-and-white geometric-patterned carpet, stools covered in red, green and yellow fabric, a modern mint lozenge-shaped sofa, thick black-and-white stripes on the ceiling and doorways painted bright yellow. Products stand out on white shelves and white walls.
Sole Cecchi likes spelling out words and phrases on products. The first handbag she designed in 2013, has the word Love spelled out in black Lego pieces. The mini Alex Black Widow is 830 euros or $930, and part of an icon category that’s always available. “My customers consistently demand these designs,” she said. “I don’t see myself retiring them. That’s why I created a seasonless line called Pop-Icons.”
Cecchi, who’s put Legos words such as “Hey” and “Aah” on handbags, said, “I think they have universal appeal. They may be simple, short words, but they’re also symbolic and recognized globally no matter what language you speak.”
The Mini Alex top-handle handbag that reads “Aah” in black-and-white Legos for 765 euros, or $858, is also part of the icon group, along with the Andy Mondrian, a black clutch with a Piet Mondrian-style made from Legos, 585 euros, or $656; the Grace Smile, a black clutch with a yellow Pac Man smiley face, 485 euros, or $554, and the mini Alex Bunny, which is decorated with colorful fox-fur pom-poms, 815 euros, or $914.
Jane Babooshka, a hexagonal clutch with a gold strap, is decorated with a Lego-crafted Russian doll, for 700 euros, or $785. Beyond Legos, Sole Cecchi uses metallic studs to cover the entire Dahlia bucket handbag, 1,095 euros, or $1,228, and multicolored glass-beaded fringe embroidery in a tribal pattern for the Mini Alex Africa, 930 euros, or $1,045.
“As with Lego bricks, I found that the possibilities are endless for the designs that I can create with studs and beads, which are so eye-catching, and can evolve with each collection,” Sole Cecchi said. The store offers customization options so shoppers can choose the bricks, studs or beads that fit into the various handbag frames and colors.
Sole Cecchi, who grew up in Florence, lived in Paris and São Paulo before returning to Italy. “Many of our craftsmen are located in the Tuscan area around Florence,” she said. “It’s home not just to me, but to the Les Petits Joueurs brand. Florence is also a very important city for the fashion industry. It’s the birthplace of many iconic brands.”
While Florence has a rich history with names such as Michelangelo, Leonardo and the Medicis, Sole Cecchi said there’s also a new energy. “It’s the perfect place to open our first flagship,” she added. “I feel that I am part of the modern story of Florentine fashion.”