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"Genara" Bag by Malababa

Spanish High-End Bags: The Edit

High-end bags are not limited to a few very well-known names. Unless, of course, you regard high-end handbags as status symbols indicating that you “have arrived”, as Samantha from “Sex and the City” famously said. You may or may not remember, but the episode with the uber-exclusive bag actually backfired for her. Still, what do we mean when we refer to a bag as “high-end“?

What’s the Deal with High-End Bags?

What qualifies a handbag as “high-end“? To me, it represents the degree of creativity that was put into the design, both in terms of style and function, plus excellent materials and equally excellent craftsmanship. Beauty and quality, in other words. The price is also part of the equation – but here the range is much wider than many people think. You may be surprised to find out that you can become an owner of a high-end handbag without spending thousands of dollars on it.

The following is a high-end bags edit courtesy of some of my favorite Spanish leather accessories brands. I started out with quite a large number, but only seven (a lucky number) made the final cut. Of course, my choice was guided by my own taste. The selection is only a sampling of what these brands have to offer. The information for further exploring is there. As usual,  all bags are designed and made in Spain.

Totes and Shoppers

These are the most practical bags, large, with a lot of compartments. They are supposed to hang comfortably from the shoulder. You always feel a tote or a shopper on your side. It’s almost like armour. As a fashion statement, of course, they are impossible to miss.

Paloma Barceló

Paloma Barcelo' Torino Bag1

Torino” black deerskin double-handled bag by Paloma Barceló. Currently at 425 Euros at the Paloma Barceló website.

Paloma Barcelo' Torino Bag2

Paloma Barceló‘s “Torino” bag crafted in total black deerskin and equipped with a removable adjustable shoulder strap, with a handy exterior pocket. Gold-tone metal hardware. On sale at 425 Euros at the Paloma Barceló website.

This sharp-looking bag (currently 50% off on the Paloma Barceló website) is proof that Paloma Barceló did the right thing by entering the luxury handbags game. “Torino” is absolutely exquisite with its black deerskin, double handles, and great functionality. I love the oversized front flap with snap fastening. This bag has the best Spanish design has to offer: leather craftsmanship, stylish restraint, ease of use. It is expensive, of course, but much less so than some other designer bags out there.

Farrutx

Farrutx Nilda Brown Weave Leather Shopper

Nilda” brown weave leather shopper by Farrutx. 200 Euros at the Farrutx website.

Farrutx Nilda Brown Weave Leather Shopper1

Nilda” by Farrutx has three compartments including one with zipper closure in the middle. Currently at 200 Euros on the Farrutx website.

The woven leather technique signals a Mallorcan/Menorcan artisanal influence. The beautiful tone of the leather exudes Mediterranean warmth. The shiny kidskin leather is gorgeous and light. Still, the “Nilda” shopper is sturdy enough to be your everyday bag. The style is less formal, less business-like than that of the “Torino” bag above. Ultimately, whether you go for the one or for the other depends on your taste, lifestyle, and budget. The “Nilda” tote costs half that of Paloma Barceló‘s “Torino“.

Malababa

"Genara" Bag by Malababa

Genara” taupe suede shopper bag by Malababa. Also available in tan. The taupe version is currently on sale at 224 Euros on the Malababa website.

high-end bags

Genara” pressure closure shopper by Malababa with an open front pocket, and additional shoulder strap.

When fully opened, the “Genara” suede shopper from Malababa’s artisan leather workshop reminds me of a stingray. The leather craftsmanship is remarkable. Plus, the corners conveniently fold in, reducing the 52 cm (20 1/2 “) span of the “stingray” into something a bit more manageable. As artisanal products, Malababa bags are crafted individually, in relatively small numbers. The “Genara” bag in taupe was on sale at the time of the writing. The tan version is also available, at the full price of 310 Euros.

Petusco

high-end bags

Rebecca” metal laminated grained cow leather horse logo embossed shopper by Petusco. Currently at 180 Euros on the Petusco website.

high-end bags

Rebecca” shopper features with removable side decorative tassel, internal zipped pocket, two open pockets and branded lining. Currently at 180 Euros on the Petusco website.

Petusco bags are known for their signature horse logo embossed leather, roomy construction, and beautiful detailing. As someone who owns several handbags by this brand (albeit from older collections), I can attest to their outstanding aesthetic appeal and quality. They are a pleasure to hold and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. I get a lot of compliments because of them. The lining is really good too: it has satin-like feel and sheen and it is imprinted with the same horse logo pattern. Consistency all throughout! As far as the price is concerned, Petusco bags are a great value. A girl can scarcely own too many bags by this brand.

Hobo and Cross Body Bags

These bags are much more relaxed in style, range in size from small to large and always have a long strap that frees up the arms. They are usually very comfy in use and great for roaming around.

Malababa

high end bags

Hermenegilda” dark-grey top-tied washed braided bag by Malababa. Made of bovine chromium-free leather, with a pressure clasp closure. 495 Euros on the Malababa website.

high end bags

The “Hermenegilda” bag features an adjustable 60-65 cm (24-26″) leather strap. 495 Euros on the Malababa website.

The “Hermenegilda” bag is probably named after some late antique princess – very romantic.  The weave pattern is quite striking (at least to me) and the leather tone is interesting. The only downside is that the color may rub off when in contact with your skin or clothes. This is definitely an inconvenience, but not a dangerous one: Malababa uses only environmentally friendly, non-toxic dyes. The price is right, considering the originality of design, the level of craftsmanship, and the quality of materials.

Castañer

high-end bags

Vega” messenger style bag by Castañer. Includes a split-leather inner bag. Currently on sale at 98 Euros on the Castañer website.

high-end bags

Vega“cross-body bag by Castañer featuring gold-colored metallic brand logo.

Castañer is one of my favorite brands and I already own a bag by them, a shopper of luxurious hunter green leather. It attracts a lot of attention everywhere I go. The “Vega” messenger-style bag has a harmonious shape, pleasantly rounded on the top. As with all  Castañer leather bags, the leather is very high grade – smooth, with a light sheen. Besides the split-leather inner bag, the little, but important luxuries include gold-colored metallic detailing on the body strap and the leather drawstrings of the inner bag. The inner bag is a great idea as a stylish and practical way to protect your valuables from wear and tear. I also love the color: a vibrant navy with a hint of purple. It is currently on sale for a steal: 98 Euros, down from 195. Castañer is known to have very good sales.

Beatriz Furest

high end bags

Lambskin leather handbag with adjustable strap length by Beatriz Furest of Barcelona. Currently at 263 Euros on the Beatriz Furest website.

high end bags

Three color messenger-style lambskin bag by Beatriz Furest of Barcelona. 263 Euros on the Beatriz Furest website.

Beatriz Furest uses the finest quality leathers for its bags: the messenger-style bag on the picture is made from lambskin, which is very soft and shiny. Good leather is not only felt – it is also seen. The color palette is gutsy: ebony black body, reddish brown strap, and mustard yellow trim. It gives the bag a unique look. Roomy and light, this bag is also very reasonably priced, at least as far as high-end bags are concerned.

Summing Up

The focus of this high-end bags edit was universality and practicality. That is why there are no clutches or other specialty bags. These handbags are designed to serve a woman all day every day if need be. Each handbag was made of well-finished quality Spanish leather by skilled Spanish artisans. Each is extremely well designed and bears a unique creative stamp of its brand.

Personally, I love all these bags, but, if I were to choose, I would probably go for the “Torino” by Paloma Barceló. Then again, I may choose the “Rebecca” by Petusco or the “Vega” by Castañer (I’m obsessed with that brand). It all depends on my mood and on the kind of money I would have to spend. However, despite differences in price, I consider each of these bags “high-end”. Being products of medium and small size leather workshops, they are not manufactured in huge batches. This means that the collections tend to go fast and that not too many people end up owning the exact same bag. All the more exclusive, all the more high-end, if you ask me.

 

 

 

Sparkling Shoes for a Happy New Year

New Year’s festivities bring to light lots and lots of sparkling shoes. Practically all women’s shoe brands use glitter in their winter models, presenting them as perfect party heels. It is not very easy to stand out in this crowd, but some brands do. The one brand that I always single out when it comes to sparkling shoes is RAS.  This Spanish luxury brand is favoured by fashionistas of all stripes – their shoes make for great Instagram material. I don’t own any RAS shoes because they are too narrow for me. However, I do admire the brand very much. It has a remarkable ability to dazzle that I just cannot resist. This is what I recently saw on RAS’s Instagram feed:

sparkling shoes

Crystal embellished velvet ballerinas by RAS.

sparkling shoes

The generous crystal design sits on a piece of transparent silicone.

sparkling shoes

These RAS ballerinas have a leather interior, rubber sole, and a 0.3” hidden platform. Caution: narrow fit, order one size up!

These shoes are sold on Rechi, a Ukranian-based online luxury fashion retailer. RAS is one of the few Spanish brands that are carried there, along with much wider known Italian brands. Many buyers are still surprised when they discover that Spanish shoes are as well-made and as fashionable as the Italian ones.

As I always say on this blog, Spanish shoes are generally undervalued on the luxury goods market, but for us, the consumers, this is a good thing right now: we get great shoes at more than competitive prices. Style cannot be limited to a few choice brands that have done a great marketing job. Real style is a work in progress and the search is never over. Those perfect shoes you have always dreamed of are out there and you should not have to settle.

From the very beginning, this blog’s mission has been to reveal these hidden treasures and make them more accessible to as many people as we can possibly reach. As for the crystal ballerinas by RAS featured abovethey are available to people living in Ukraine and adjacent countries. Eastern Europe is relatively new to luxury goods, but all the more eager for it. They literally want to have it all! In North America, YOOX, my shopping partner, regularly carries a large selection of RAS: sparkling shoes and all. Like these elegant ankle strap kitten heels below, made of techno fabric, sateen, sequins, rhinestones, and nude leather lining:

sparkling shoes

Glitter pump by RAS, $161 on YOOX. Click on the image for more details.

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Celebrating Christmas the Spanish Way

Celebrating Christmas in Spain has its special touches. From the busy Christmas markets of Spain’s major towns to the solitude of a remote medieval village, you can soak up plenty of genuine Christmas spirit with a quirky Spanish flavour.

Barcelona’s Fira de Sta. Llúcia Christmas Market

celebrating christmas

Fira de Sta. Llúcia – the Saint Lucy Fair in old Barcelona. Image courtesy IG account @veronicaramosllaves.

The Saint Lucy Christmas Fair takes place every year from November 25 to December 23 around La Seu or Barcelona’s medieval cathedral of Santa Eulàlia (Saint Eulalia).

Christmas celebrations

Christmas decorations at the Fira de Sta. Llúcia. Image courtesy IG account @snubbull1.

celebrating Christmas

Tió de Nadal, a traditional Christmas mascot, guards some cranberry-filled chocolate shells at the Fira de Sta. Llúcia in Barcelona. Image courtesy of IG account @albalolitrufofira.

Tió de Nadal is a little wooden character (literally the “log of Christmas”) from Catalan and Aragon mythology. This app. 30 cm (12”) hollow wooden log appears in many Catalonian and Aragonese homes in the run-up to Christmas. In recent times he often sports stick legs, a red mini sock-hat or beret, a 3D-nose, and a friendly grin. From December 8 to Christmas Day Tió de Nadal gets a bit of food placed by him and a little blanket to keep warm at night. The idea is that, come Christmas Day, with some prodding, the little log will poop out presents.

celebrating Christmas

Tió de Nadal mascots sold at the Fira de Sta. Llúcia Christmas Fair in old Barcelona. Image courtesy IG @cris_mayorgas.

Celebrating Christmas at Foncebadón

Far from busy Barcelona, the tiny quiet village of Foncebadón in the north-western province of León is celebrating Christmas according to ancient tradition.

celebrating Christmas

A traditional Leonese twelve candle Christmas “tree” (ramo leonés) is lit in the medieval village of Foncebadón, north-western Spain.

Foncebadón is an isolated mountain spot in north-western Spain. Remote as it is, it happens to lie in the path of St. James’ Way or Camino de Santiago, an extremely popular pilgrimage route from the Middle Ages. The route was so important that kings gave special privileges to inhabitants of villages that serviced the pilgrims. Pilgrims needed shelter, food, care, and  Foncebadón provided it. As early as X century, the medieval village of Foncebadón had a pilgrim’s hostel and a pilgrim’s hospital.

celebrating Christmas

The medieval bell tower in Foncebadón, Spain.

As the ancient pilgrimage route waned, the village declined too. The church and other important buildings practically fell apart. Finally, by mid-20th century only two residents were left, a mother and a son.

Almost miraculously, Foncebadón came back to life only a few decades after being abandoned. Spurred on by the dramatic increase in the number of pilgrims making their way to Santiago, a small group of enthusiasts set out to restore Foncebadón‘s reputation as pilgrim caretaker.

celebrating Christmas

A Camino de Santiago marker. Image source: National Geographic Expeditions.

celebrating Christmas

El Trasgu de Foncebadón – restaurant, shop, and hostel servicing pilgrims on their way to St. James.

The buildings were restored as faithfully as possible so that hospitality could again be offered to people passing through the village. Foncebadón now houses four hostels and three tavern-restaurants catering to pilgrims and other guests. Many people are interested in celebrating Christmas or other holidays in the spiritually charged atmosphere of a medieval pilgrimage station.

celebrating Christmas

Foncebadón in the snow, looking like a perfect setting for a nativity scene. December 2016. Images: El Trasgu de Foncebadón.

Wouldn’t it be something to celebrate Christmas in Foncebadón?

Safe and peaceful holidays, everyone!

Paco Gil Women’s Shoes Online

Buying shoes online is in trend. This, of course, does not mean that physical stores are going out of fashion. Can anyone imagine life without shopping centers? Many brick-and-mortar brand stores now offer interactive digital environments, while webshops, both single and multi-brand, offer in-store pick-ups (and drop-offs, in case of return or exchange). All these things are being worked out as we speak both by the industry and by consumers. Back to shoes, however: many noteworthy international shoes and accessories brands, like the Spanish ones that this blog is about, do not yet have a significant presence in the North American retail network. So we have to look for shoes online.

Paco Gil Fall-Winter 2016-17 Collection

shoes online

Alba” patent leather flat with oversized strap and buckle by Paco Gil Fall-Winter 2016-17.

shoes online

Candela“studded velvet bootie by Paco Gil Fall-Winter 2016-17.

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The spectacular sequined “Ronda” ankle boot by Paco Gil Fall-Winter 2016-17.

In this post, the brand in focus is Paco Gil. Founded in the 80s, it’s one of these classic Spanish luxury shoe brands that like their shoes sexy and tactile, playing up the traditional connection between shoes and desire. In the beginning of this year the company went through quite a dramatic event: a generational shift. The daughters of the founder, Carla and Sara Gil, who for years worked as their father’s assistants both on the business and the design side, have officially come forward to take the reins of the family enterprise. The Fall-Winter 2016-2017 collection is, therefore,  the first one launched under their leadership.

shoes online

Carla Gil, head of design at Paco Gil. Video still courtesy Decasa Life Style TV channel, Spain.

shoes online

Sara Gil, one of the sisters at the helm of Paco Gil Shoes. Video still courtesy Decasa Life Style TV channel, Spain.

The two women have a lot on their plate. Steering the brand through the challenges of the global market is a tall order. Femininity and desire, which Paco Gil shoes embody so well, haven’t gone anywhere, but the attitudes of both women and men towards how these traits should be expressed are now in flux.  Here, expertise gathered over more than thirty years of Paco Gil’s domestic and, crucially, international success should help regain footing as a luxury shoe brand for women today. Judging by the latest collection, Sara and Carla Gil are more than holding their own. Here are a few more highlights:

shoes online

Natalia” azure patent leather wide strap pump with round button detailing. By Paco Gil Fall-Winter 2016-17.

The “Natalia” pump is the star of the collection, in my eyes. It stands out because of its exotic azure color and the beautiful finish of the patent leather. The large button detail is simple but very effective. It becomes a visual focus of the pump, helping tone down the glossiness while contrasting nicely with the slender, moderately high heel.

shoes online

Patricia” scrunch shaft suede tall boot in navy by Paco Gil Fall-Winter 2016-17.

The “Patricia” boot is both posh and practical. I love the scrunchy suede texture, the sexiness of the over-the-knee style, and the comfort of the modest heel. Add to that the distinctive elongated shape, which reminds one of the old masters, and you have a winner on your hands.

The question is: are the above shoes available to buy from North America? The answer is yes and no. The black version of the “Patricia” boot yes, the navy version no. The exotic “Natalia” pump, unfortunately, no. BUT……

Paco Gil Shoes Online

There are a few places where you can buy Paco Gil shoes online. YOOX, my affiliate partner, and most trusted online retailer, carries a small selection. Not from the current collection, of course – YOOX is a designer discount shop, meaning that it gets its fashion items late in the season or post-season.

shoes online

A metallic leather sandal by Paco Gil, $87 at YOOX. To see if your size is available, click on the picture.

Of all the online retailers out there, Spartoo, a French multi-brand outfit, carries the most complete selection of Paco Gil. Crucially, it also ships to North America. Below are some of the models available, mostly, but not exclusively, from the Fall-Winter 2016-17 collection. Personally, I haven’t shopped at Spartoo yet, but hope to, in the near future. By the way, all Paco Gil shoes and boots at Spartoo are eligible for free delivery to the United States

The “Musketeer” Boot

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Richmond” leather tall boot by Paco Gil, $276.40 on Spartoo.

shoes online

This spectacular boot is from last season’s collection.

The Suede Scrunch Tall Boot

shoes online

Marie” tall suede scrunch-style boot by Paco Gil Fall-Winter 2016-17. $318.00 on Spartoo.

This boot is the black counterpart of the navy “Patricia” boot above.

The Lacquered Pump

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Amaya” mid-heel two-tone patent leather pump by Paco Gil FW16-17. $190.50 on Spartoo.

The elegantly pointed black patent leather toe and low-cut sides give this deliciously glossy pump a super-sleek silhouette. The black patent trim, as well as buckle, back, and heel create a perfect frame for the classic taupe upper. The nude leather lining is luxurious. All in all, the “Amaya” pump has the delicate quality of a Japanese lacquer box.

The Croc Effect Ankle Boot

shoes online

Cara” croc effect leather ankle boot by Paco Gil Fall-Winter 2016-17. Heel: 3.1”. $275.50 Euros at Spartoo. Free delivery to the US.

This textured leather ankle boot does not need any embellishments: the croc print effect on patent leather (plus the two zippers, one on each side) are eye-catching as it is.

The Buckled Shoe Boot

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Roca” shoe bootie with oversized buckle detailing and size zipper by Paco Gil. $178.80 on Spartoo. 4.3” heel.

The most striking feature of this low-cut shoe boot is the finely marbled effect of the leather. And the pretty buckle, of course.

So, these are the options for buying Paco Gil shoes online, both current and previous collections. It’s likely that in the future the brand’s online shop will be functioning again, as it once did. In any case, we’re wishing the new heads of the company, Sara and Carla Gil, best of luck in their new roles. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing new Paco Gil collections for years to come!