by Emma Jayne Daniels
Featuring laptop cases with embossed keyboard design to all sizes of bags, holders and pouches, in a mixture of unusual and exotic skins from pony and kangaroo to shark and ray skins, designer Natalia Brilli transforms accessories into a luxurious contemporary, must-have collection for organised city life.
The bags and other classics are completed in warm, muted tones of ebony, ochre and taupe. Animal furs and skins and timeless leopard print adorn backpacks and large hobo bags ready to brave the urban jungle. The art and travel inspired pieces of the collection are a beacon of a cultured wearer. They are classic pieces that stand the test of time, with a hint of humour in ‘objects’ like the leather skateboard, the leather paper bags and the leather pouch embossed with the words ‘Skate and Destroy’ that harks back to the designer’s past. Writer Emma Daniels explores the brand’s foundations and extensive collection with owner, Natalia Brilli.
Emma Jayne-Daniels: Tell us a little about the background of your self titled brand ‘Natalia Brilli’.
Natalia Brilli: After studying at La Cambre in Brussels and completing a master’s degree at IFM in Paris, I launched my brand, of which it will soon be the 10th anniversary.
EJD: What’s the spirit of your brand? What are the ethics and values is has been built on?
Natalia Brilli: A mix of dark, ghostly and surrealist spirit from the North combined with a mixture of glamour and cultivated elegance from the South. I built my brand on the aesthetic influences of my dual cultural heritage, but also on the notion of an artisanal know-how in which creativity and quality play a fundamental role.
EJD: Who is the Natalia Brilli customer?
Natalia Brilli: I don’t know whether I have a precise type of customer, but I think it would above all be a person who’s not enslaved by trends, who is sensitive to artisanal objects but also has an artistic appreciation of said objects.
EJD: You use some very interesting animal skins for your products, what’s the reason behind this?
Natalia Brilli: As a matter of fact it is not the leathers themselves which are special but more the manner in which I use them. The leather covering technique I use is a time-consuming and meticulous process, everything is done entirely by hand: no machine can do it…For instance, it takes a minimum of one hour to make a pearl necklace, and some of the more complex pieces can take one, even two days to complete. Only human hands are involved in making the pieces, which makes each one of them unique.
EJD: Your collection is rather big – can you explain the structure of it?
Natalia Brilli: Throughout the years, certain pieces in my collection have been very successful; therefore they became “classics” of the brand, pieces such as the Sautoir, a leather-covered pearl necklace, or the Nolex, a leather-covered watch. I also think it’s important to have these “historical” pieces that are associated with the history of my brand and my work. And then of course there are always new pieces that are added, since every season I tell a new story…
EJD: What is your inspiration?
Natalia Brilli: People that I know and that are close to me, but also women such as Edih Sitwell, Nancy Cunard or Annemarie Schwarzenbach for their timeless beauty and their typically British spirit, their troubled and ghostly auras and the mystery that shrouds them. The poetic and surrealistic movies of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and Jean Cocteau, the “film noir” of Jacques Tourneur. “Midnight Movies”, from Dario Argento to Alejandro Jodorowsky. 1920’s and 1930’s decorative arts, such as decorators Janine Janet and Tony Duquette. Italian architects Carlo Mollino and Gio Ponti. Contemporary art, but also the Northern school of painting (Belgian, British and Scandinavian painters), symbolism and surrealism. Travelling, natural sciences and gardens, musical currents and urban cultures. The list is very long…
EJD: Is there an explanation behind the skateboard and the slogan ‘skate and destroy’?
Natalia Brilli: When I was a teenager I hung out in skate parks and therefore met a lot of skaters. For me the skateboard as an object is a symbol of an urban culture I love and the slogan “skate and destroy” is simply part of the language of that culture. We could discuss it for hours but then again it’s very simple and straightforward, it’s a clear message when you’re familiar with that universe, it’s a bit like punk’s “No Future”.
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Fashion Article by Emma Jayne Daniels