Lately, one bag has been catching my attention as I walk into the office every day: the PIOGGIA by Caterina Lucchi. The thought that comes to mind is: “I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.”
An Original Style?
Granted, I’m not a user of ladies handbags. But I do live and breathe Campomaggi and Caterina Lucchi handbags on a daily basis and Emi loves to wear them every day. Perhaps other designers have explored this exact style before and I am late to the party: even if that were the case, I would not be surprised if Caterina Lucchi’s version is quite original. Besides all these possibilities, I was impressed with the design and I continue to be. The braids are one-of-a-kind and very appealing to sight and touch.
The Artisanship is very remarkable, in my opinion, because it is not so easy to produce those braids, especially using buffalo (instead of cow) leather. When I pick it up and inspect it, the bag looks really well made.
The braids are the result of an intricate pattern of stitches that does not exactly look simple to accomplish, a testament to the skill of the artisans and to the creativity of the designer who came up with a doable way to accomplish it.
Caterina Lucchi uses buffalo leather from time to time. Italy has a growing population of buffaloes that arrived during the sixth century from central Europe and is concentrated around Naples (these are the buffaloes who produce the milk for mozzarella and scamorza affumicata). Italian buffalo leather is thicker, more solid, and more durable than our beloved vacchetta leather. For this reason it is a bit more complicated to work, but it yields a long lasting product. Caterina’s buffalo leather is still soft to the touch but does feel thicker and, consequently, stiffer than her calfskin products.
A Mature, Independent Personality
Caterina Lucchi is a wonderful woman. Her personality is very strong and loving. Like Emi and I, she can be around her husband a lot and get along. She can also go her own way with her brand, which is very innovative, unique, and vibrant. I know Emi loves her products, and apparently so does my little Chiara who is seven. She spent a week at the office last week when school was closed and she said she liked the PIOGGIA… Perhaps it is a sign that we are going to bump heads when she’s a teenager, but for now she still laughs at all of my jokes.
We received our Caterina Lucchi picks for the 2014 summer and they are even more delightful than we ever imagined. We had seen them a few months back, but actually holding them and admiring the colors that we chose is a wonderful feeling.
The first bags that we added to the web site are the PETALINI, the ONDA, and the new version of the BALLETTO, the BALLETTO BIS in buffalo leather.
With these three bags along with the rest of the Caterina Lucchi and Campomaggi collections our showroom is in full bloom. Just like in a garden, some flowers will last longer than others while some will leave for their new homes rather quickly. When we get to know the customers who buy the bags we feel like we are still in touch (it’s like a kid off to college), so please do not hesitate to ask questions, you are really just helping us know where our beloved bags will go.
The fall/winter Caterina Lucchi collection arrived in November. We worked really hard to take pictures and post the bags to the web site and were immediately rewarded by an immediate response from our best customers. We are not used to such a response as it usually takes months for new products to even get noticed.
We named the new collection the Heritage Collection because the way these bags are treated and designed suggests a link to previous generations and our traditions. Despite this, the bags are extremely fresh and their practicality is definitely inspired by today’s trends.
After witnessing this great reception by our customers, we now expect Caterina Lucchi to become a more established designer in the United States as well. In Europe, she sometimes seems to attract more attention than Campomaggi, so I fully expect our global audience to begin to take notice as well.
(Continued from Part 1)
Today business is growing very rapidly at a time when the great recession has negatively impacted growth for a lot of companies in the industry.
Because of this success Campomaggi and Caterina Lucchi have been selected by a european union body as the Italian small business that thrived during hard times through innovation and creativity. The award will be presented in the fall. The choice was definitely appropriate.
After getting Caterina’s take on her favorite leather bags the time came for me to say “goodbye.” The impression I got is that the ingredients of Caterina and Marco’s success are love, passion, hard work, creativity, and intuition. A list of ingredients that requires skill to nurture and amalgamate. As it turns out, Marco and Caterina know something about nurturing and mixing ingredients: the Campomaggi kitchen at home has room for two cooks and if their bags are the clue… dinner must be memorable.
At the end of the day, I was able to casually chat with Caterina Lucchi. Despite all of our previous conversations I still felt that a gentle poke into Caterina’s past would help me learn a lot more about her philosophy and inspiration.
As we sat on the couch and started talking, a number of Caterina’s employees sat on the chairs nearby and began listening. It was a cozy moment: we were only missing a crackling fireplace and a snowstorm outside.
Caterina began dating Marco when she was seventeen and Marco was eighteen. Caterina worked as a waitress and Marco was starting to make leather bags with a friend and was selling his unique and handmade bags on the sidewalks of Cesenatico.
Since Marco couldn’t make bags fast enough, Caterina, who aspired to become a Physical Education teacher, began helping and discovered a passion for creating beautiful accessories. Marco and Caterina began exhibiting at local markets and fairs and met such positive response that they had to set aside making progress on their university studies.
Soon it was time to hire their first employee. At the beginning, the position required a little bit of everything. The job description included accounting for a couple of days a week and a lot of help making bags. That first hire is now Campomaggi and Caterina Lucchi‘s Purchasing Manager. Marco and Caterina take pride in never having fired anyone. When the deep crisis hit the industry after 9/11, they reduced hours for everyone at the company.
When we write product descriptions, we try to go beyond simply listing features and convey the essence, or the “personality” of the product. Often I’ll let a product sit on my desk for days before I feel like I am familiar enough with it to write about it. If it’s a handbag, I might try carrying it on my shoulder to see how comfortable it feels, or try filling it with different items to see what kinds of uses it might be best suited for.
With the Petalo Grande Laser-cut Leather Handbag, I wanted to try something different. So I had Daniele take photos of me as I was toting it around. The result was somewhat surprising … the image I had of the bag was not the same as what I saw in the photos! Because the bag is so light – one of the big pluses of Caterina Lucchi‘s leather bags – I hadn’t realized how large the bag seems from a distance. (I also realized that my sepia-colored sweater does not really bring out the nuanced java color of this bag). The bag IS quite large. You can fit quite a bit of stuff in it. But you won’t feel like you’re toting around a bowling bag, because even though it’s real Italian leather, it’s calfskin … super soft and supple, and light-weight.
I love the Batik, two-toned look of this bag. It’s subtle enough as to not detract from the gorgeous laser-cut flower motif, but offers just enough of a contrast to remind us that the understated brown is most definitely intentional. A very nice feature (also typical of Caterina Lucchi’s handbags) is the removable leather strap. I thought this bag would be first and foremost a handbag, and secondly a shoulder/cross-body bag, but to my surprise, it looked fantastic worn crossbody style – perhaps even better than high on the shoulder. I loved this look so much that I decided to take even more photos with my 1-day old HTC Vivid and play around with some of the nifty effects that would take several steps to do in Photoshop! These two were my favorite.
Anyway, now that we have smartphones that can take high-quality photos and videos that can be uploaded to our server with just a couple of key strokes, we hope to post more photos and videos of our products going forward. Hmm, maybe I can use this as an excuse to go shop for some new clothes!
We just posted two new Caterina Lucchi leather handbags and we are so excited about them both!
The Sera is a gorgeous clutch with a chic, playful design. By attaching the leather strap, you can turn it into a shoulder bag or a crossbody bag, making it a super versatile accessory! It reminds me of my favorite pleated skirt that I never had… except better, because I don’t have to worry about fitting into it six months from now 🙂
The Petalo is a small, light handbag, and it feels oh so good in the hand. The laser-cut flower-motif design is stunning in its own right, but add to it the uniquely-dyed pattern and you’ve got an amazing little bag that packs a big punch!
Both bags are made with Caterina Lucchi’s signature garment-dyed process, resulting in calfskin so soft you will find them very hard to put down!