Ar­ti­sans at­work

Qual­ity crafts­man­ship and at­ten­tion to de­tail is the key to time­less el­e­gance

Hong Kong Tatler - - Tater Focus -

In this age of fast fash­ion, it of­ten seems like true crafts­man­ship is a lost art—but that’s cer­tainly not the case at her­itage leather ac­ces­sories brand Valex­tra. Founded by Gio­vanni Fon­tana in 1937, Valex­tra has al­ways been about more than just leather, and the brand’s first store in Milan’s Pi­azza San Ba­bila quickly earned a rep­u­ta­tion for craft­ing in­no­va­tive leather de­signs us­ing only the finest ar­ti­sanal sad­dler tech­niques.

Fon­tana’s team of ex­pert crafts­men worked from the first floor of the bou­tique, where each unique piece was crafted by hand be­fore be­ing show­cased in the store’s fa­mously ex­trav­a­gant win­dow dis­plays. This was a place where any­thing was pos­si­ble, in­clud­ing a hip­popota­mus-skin van­ity case and hat­box made for opera diva Maria Cal­las, a stun­ning gold bag clasp cre­ated as a gift for the Hol­ly­wood ac­tress Grace Kelly, and a be­spoke 14-piece ele­phant-skin lug­gage set made for the Emir of Kuwait.

Fon­tana’s con­tem­po­rary yet time­less aes­thet­ics and trans­for­ma­tive cre­ative vi­sion saw many of his sig­na­ture items go down in history as mod­ern icons. Th­ese in­cluded the inim­itable 24-Hour Bag at­taché case, de­signed for

short trips away and ex­hib­ited at New York’s Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art; the Grip gen­tle­men’s coin purse, de­vised es­pe­cially to fit on the dash­board of a car; the Tric-trac wrist bag cre­ated to store men’s es­sen­tials dur­ing the 1960s vogue for pocket-less cig­a­rette trousers; and the Avi­etta 48-Hour brief­case and Ex­tend­able Sac lug­gage, the per­fect com­pan­ions for the new age of air­plane travel.

In 2000, Emanuele Carmi­nati Molina in­vested in Valex­tra, breath­ing fresh life into the brand and driv­ing busi­ness to the next level. Molina re­mem­bered gaz­ing ad­mir­ingly into the bou­tique’s win­dows as a teenager, and was de­ter­mined to stay true to Fon­tana’s dis­tinc­tive spirit and vi­sion while bring­ing the brand firmly into the 21st cen­tury—by restor­ing Valex­tra’s tra­di­tional ar­ti­sanal tech­niques and pass­ing down the an­cient art of sad­dlery to a new gen­er­a­tion of ap­pren­tices.

Lux­ury at Valex­tra isn’t in a flashy logo or mo­men­tary trend—in­stead, it man­i­fests it­self in the small­est de­tails, from the ex­clu­sive skins sourced from spe­cific breed­ers to the threads used for stitch­ing and fin­ish­ings, all in colours unique to the mai­son. Ad­mire the softly curved pro­tec­tive cor­ners of Valex­tra’s travel ac­ces­sories, which re­call the win­dow con­tours of the orig­i­nal Pi­azza San Ba­bila bou­tique; the shear-cut edges cre­ated us­ing a spe­cial “costa” pip­ing tech­nique be­fore be­ing hand-lac­quered in care­fully cho­sen con­trast­ing or tonal shades; and the soft leather lin­ing of each item, sub­tly cut with the sig­na­ture V shape on its in­ter­nal com­part­ments and with a dou­ble sad­dle-stitch to re­in­force its joints.

Af­ter years of cut­ting-edge me­chan­i­cal re­search, all of Valex­tra’s lock­ing sys­tems, clasps, han­dles and wheels are patent-pro­tected, while each piece is also hot-stamped with the crafts­man’s per­sonal code, the item’s se­rial num­ber and the date of pro­duc­tion.

Valex­tra’s be­spoke ser­vice of­fers cus­tomers the ut­most in cus­tomised lux­ury, hark­ing back to the days of the Milan bou­tique, where Fon­tana him­self would at­tend to his clien­tele’s ev­ery re­quest, how­ever un­usual. Nowa­days, the be­spoke process has been mod­ernised with a con­ve­nient in-store app that al­lows cus­tomers to choose from Valex­tra’s ex­ten­sive range of hides (from clas­sic calf­skins to ex­otic os­trich), ex­clu­sive colours and beau­ti­ful fin­ishes (such as the colour of the stitch­ing, hard­ware and pip­ing)—but the tra­di­tional at­ten­tion to de­tail re­mains ev­ery bit as ex­act­ing as in Fon­tana’s day. For a truly unique touch, opt for a per­son­alised mono­gram, where the client’s ini­tials can be em­bossed in ei­ther gold or plat­inum.

Aside from its stylish hand­bags for women and men, Valex­tra is known for its chic, func­tional travel ac­ces­sories that range from pass­port hold­ers to van­ity cases and handy all-in-one wal­lets. Tra­di­tion, in­no­va­tion, el­e­gance and prac­ti­cal­ity: Valex­tra’s unique brand of qual­ity crafts­man­ship is truly built to last.

stylish stitches Valex­tra’s hand­crafted “costa” pip­ing tech­nique adds eye-catching con­tours

sheer beauty Em­ploy­ing ar­ti­sanal sad­dlery tech­niques, Valex­tra’s crafts­men cut, stitch and pol­ish each piece by hand

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