The fast-paced world of fashion storms the world with a slew of designs each season, but what’s aesthetic ingenuity if it is not underscored by knowhow? With these words, L’Officiel Singapore won us over and we had to share the story. We are always banging on about craftsmanship and so are luxury brands, big and small, but there is a good reason for this. This article, first published in L’Officiel Singapore, looks at three luxury fashion brands whose accessories are creatively on-point and score high on craftsmanship.
The sport-luxe statement boots that stalked Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2016 runways aren’t exactly what come to mind when one mentions handmade shoes, but that’s exactly the level of quality the house devotes to its footwear collection. In Venice, Italy, a town called Fiesso d’Artico is the stomping ground of shoe manufacturing, particularly for women’s shoes. It is no coincidence that in 2009, Louis Vuitton chose to set up its shoe plant in Fiesso d’Artico as a space solely for the development and production of footwear – not just bespoke orders and the classics that form the brand’s permanent collections, but the seasonal runway shoes as well.
Just as every pair of shoes from Fiesso d’Artico requires around 200 separate steps both by hand and machine to create, creative director Nicolas Ghesquière’s amplified ankle boots with sneaker influences sport a marriage of traditional shoemaking savoir faire and modern technology.
Every established luxury brand has a signature item with an appeal that withstands the test of time. For Bottega Veneta, it’s safe to say that the Cabat has been one of its most coveted bags since its debut (it was creative director Tomas Maier’s first design in 2001). An understated classic tote, it’s been reincarnated season after season, year after year, for 15 years – in nappa leather in seasonal colors and exotic skins including croco, karung and ostrich. Trendy editions included Memory (English Lamb with aluminum foil), Crystal Cabat made of polyurethane, and the Lana Cabat made of nappa with wool.
As Cabat fans know, the leather is woven such that the bag has no side seams. About 100 double-faced leather strips, each about 1.60m long, are handwoven in the diagonal pattern that made “intrecciato” synonymous with Bottega Veneta. This can only be done standing up as it requires a lot of strength to work those long strips into a perfect weave – one artisan handles the weaving, and another stitches the base and handles. The bag is always left unlined because it’s as beautiful inside as out, since two-sided leather strips are used.
Feel the softer side of leather as we know it with Ermengildo Zegna’s Pelle Tessuta, a luxe fabric-like woven nappa featured in the brand’s Fall/Winter 2016 collection of shoes and accessories. Instead of the traditional fabric yarns used in cloth weaving, lamb nappa leather strips are placed in a warp position and woven together to create an incredibly supple and light material that’s handsome too. While Zegna has always been known for its heritage of quality fabrics and weaving technique, the innovative Pelle Tessuta further cements the brand’s standing in leather-making savoir faire. To maintain high craftsmanship standards, quality control is essential in creating the Pelle Tessuta. Before the woven leather can be cut for sewing, an artisan inspects the leather fabric to ensure the strips are perfectly aligned at the right angles, with not a strand out of place.
This article was first published in L’Officiel Singapore.