We were very excited about the opportunity to interview a
renowned American-Italian designer Anthony Luciano, having among his customers, for instance, Meryl Streep and Cameron Diaz. Living in his beloved New York
and having fascinated with his vintage-inspired everyday luxury handbags
collection in 2000 such American retailers as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus
and Stanley Korshak, he is now fully focusing on direct relationships with his
customers. Being a newyorker and world citizen, his love for design came from
his grandmother and mother who with care and love showed a young Anthony their
masterful handwork skills.
- What are your expectations towards this year's Estonian Design Award BRUNO competition, what kind of products you would be most interested in seeing that would for you be worthy of the award?
As this will be my first time as a juror for the Tallinn Design Festival & BRUNO competition, my expectations are without precedent. However, based on my personal experience with Estonian artists who are immensely talented my view is that I’ll find a wide array of exceptional products. As my background is Fashion, I will instinctively be drawn to items that speak to me on a visual level. I am, however, looking forward to discovering different aspects of “design” that are not so much about form but rather function.
- What are the areas or keywords you are associating the design coming from Estonia with?
Sleek, minimalistic, functional, and innovative!
- Your vintage bags exhibition “50 Bags to Live For” at Tallinn Design Festival will be a must-go for all design and fashion lovers. You have told in the introduction that you are inspired by your Italian roots, the handicraft skills that your grandma was teaching, as well as find intriguing the storytelling of the vintage bags, wandering who they might have belonged to and what kind of life were those women living. Is there any special memory of your grandmother teaching you some of the handicraft techniques that has influenced you as a designer?
Actually both my mother and grandmother were always sewing, crocheting or making the embroidery. There isn’t a single memory of my grandmother that doesn’t involve my fascination with this. I loved watching them create such beautiful items with their hands and knew from a very young age that I wanted to do the same. I would sit by my grandmother’s side soaking in as much as I could as she would teach me. And there was nothing better than when she would compliment an item I was working on. I credit her, and my mother, for giving me the strength to follow my passion.
- These days you are living in NYC. How much do you take inspiration from your New York surroundings and the everyday city life or are you trying to keep the modern lines and vintage separated?
As much as I believe that travelling the globe is essential for opening one’s mind and heart to other experiences, I also believe that NYC is the center of the universe. At least in in my opinion. It’s a feast of clashing cultures and expressions. I came here at 18 for university from a small country town and after almost 38 years I’m still here. It has a way of sucking you in and I’ve loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not every minute but I can’t see myself living anywhere else.
As far as keeping the modern and vintage separated, I don’t ever think about it to be honest. Over the past 22 years of running my own business, I have never been confined to traditional fashion standards or rules. Luckily my clients have responded well and I continue follow my instincts what to design and create.
- If you could pick one or two items from the vintage bags exhibition “50 Bags to Live For” that for you have the best story to tell, what would those be and why?
Like parents not having a favorite child, it’s very difficult for me to choose a favorite bag in my exhibit. Typically, when someone asks me what’s my favorite bag, I usually respond with the answer “the bag I’m creating at the moment.” That being said, I do have a special place in my heart for the Diamond Pyramid bag. It was made for a client of mine who is not well. She was attending an event in her honor and requested that I make a spectacular bag, which was as special and unique as she is.
- Your vintage-inspired everyday luxury handbags collection in 2000 fascinated the American retailers and appeared in Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Stanley Korshak among others, what are your plans for the next collections and projects?
As my business has always been built on developing personal relationships with my clients, the demise of retail has shifted to my benefit. There was a time when 75% of my clients were obtained from major influential department stores. Now, having gone 100% direct-to-consumer, I am living my best life providing an experience, not just a transaction.
- And finally, what is your opinion of the Italian accessories design nowadays. Has the country with such rich design, fashion and handicraft tradition found a good way forward?
I think it’s difficult to evaluate what’s happening with the Italian accessories market at the moment. Old world craftsman are disappearing and it’s a challenge to find young blood to follow in their footsteps. You really have to have a passion for handwork and craftsmanship to get into the business when in today’s world there is so much emphasis on making fast fashion and quick money. Disappointing for sure.
Thank you, Anthony! Grazie! Aitäh!
Anthony Luciano at Tallinn Design Festival: The Art of Leather Working Workshop & The Exibit "50 Bags to Live For"
Photos: Anthony Luciano private collection