"The Middle Eastern woman isn't afraid to carry a daring shape, which makes her fun to work with" – M2Malletier's Melissa and Marcela
In conversation with the designers
W hen Melissa Losada and Marcela Velez launched M2Malletier in 2012 the Colombian designers set out to "to create something the industry had never seen before". Now, five years on and the Parsons School of Design graduates are curating their own handbag culture from a dreamy Barcelona studio, where designs are "interpreted as the unification of two fundamental cultural movements: minimalism and surrealism". Here, Buro 24/7 Middle East talks to the designers about their exclusive hardware, their Rapunzel-like atelier and how ten tribes from across Ethiopia became the inspiration for their latest collection...
What made you want to want to become handbag designers?
We hadn't purchased new bags for a while; we were tired of the 'it' bags. That's how M2Malletier was created; we wanted a product that didn't have its brand everywhere, something more discreet and timeless.
What was the inspiration behind the latest collection?
For the Fall '17 collection, we were influenced by a recent trip to Ethiopia, where Melissa visited more than ten different tribes. Ethiopia's deep, rich colour palette of lipstick red, emerald green, deep violet, cadmium yellow, and metallic pulse through the collection.
Then the backdrop for the Fall '17 campaign was Ricardo Bofill's private home, located on the coast of Spain, and built during the 1970s, which hosted decadent parties during the decade. Drawing from this time period, and bands like Joy Division, the Fall '17 collection also introduces new hardware including a geometric chain and new textures like velvet, shearling, alligator and cashmere suede.
What inspires the brand M2Malletier?
M2Malletier combines influences from the world of architecture with the world of history - refreshing medieval armor and thought-provoking tools relevant to the time period. Our brand's philosophy is reminiscent of the works of French interior designer Jean-Michele Frank and Catalan architect, Richardo Bofill. While the brand pays homage to iconic pioneering women such as one of the 20th century's most daring and influential patrons of the arts — Vicomtesse Marie-Laure De Noailles — with its unexpected and trend-setting designs.
Can you describe your design studio and atelier?
Our office, located near Barcelona, is more than just a workspace, it's a postmodern masterpiece. Our corner of La Fabrica is modest, under 1,000 square feet including the airy attached pied à terre with a bedroom that looks out on to the olive garden - but it has a Rapunzel-like charm of its own. Billowing ivory floor-to-ceiling curtains create ethereal contrast with the classical arches and there are pops of unexpected colour. The vibe and eclectic energy that this space exudes inspires us to create and design new styles every season too in order to keep our clients satisfied, yet always being true to our brand image.
What do you think about Middle Eastern fashion and style?
We admire the bold fashion sense that Middle Eastern women embrace. She's not afraid to carry a daring shape or colour, which makes it a lot of fun to work with her.
our Middle Eastern client is very knowledgeable, which allows her to always look chic, glamorous and timeless
What do you think of social media in the fashion industry?
We have mixed feelings about it. Social media has brought a lot of good things to the fashion industry, for example, being able to reach a wide network within a short period of time can be good for sales. On the negative side, this also can take away the magic of discovering and luring an exclusive item.
What has changed the most in the past since you've been designing?
The whole retail structure has changed to an e-commerce and technology-based strategy.
Who is the M2Malletier woman?
A woman distinguished for her eternal style and sober taste. The M2Malletier woman is a trendsetter in her own distinct way.
How would you describe your current state at M2Malletier?
A discreet, clean and timeless brand.
How do you keep your ideas and your creative dialogue fresh?
By traveling as much as we can.
Your favorite colours?
Your favourite fabrics?
Silk velvet! We will be launching something new in this material next season!
What does luxury mean for you today?
Craftsmanship, materials and time invested in each piece.
What is your vision of the "see-now-buy-now" concept?
We believe this new model can be effective, as it will enable the consumers to "wear now". Nonetheless, switching to this operational model will not be easy and will definitely require major collaboration between teams in corporations that would typically work with a siloed mentality. Additionally, we are yet to see any detailed numbers from global brands that are addressing this new approach to affirm an increase in sales.
Who is your muse today?
All of the inspiring women that fight for our rights.
And your next steps for the brand?
We are definitely looking into venturing in the direction of accessories and footwear.
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