We speak to Marie de La Roche about her Singapore-based handbag label
Singapore-based label. Check. Quirky and vibrant colours. Check. Handmade with the best quality. Check. What's not to love about the bags from Marie de La Roche? The eponymous brand launched in 2015 by the Colombian designer who has had merchandising internships at Goyard and Bottega Veneta, and studied at Istituto Marangoni in Milan and Raffles Design Institute in Singapore. Talk about having international cachet.
Combining traditional techniques with modern technology, all the playful and eclectic bags are produced in Turkey with artisanal hand stitching and cut-outs of leather are all laser cut. For spring/summer 18, Marie De la Roche collaborated with Malaysian designer Jonathan Liang to create pastel coloured styles suitable for the rebellious romantic. Inspired by the exploration of a female samurai, the structured bags feature a fringed armor — the ruffles that you'll see on most of Marie de La Roche bags.
Stocked at Harvey Nichols in London, 3rdeye showroom in Paris and SocietyA in Singapore, discover the eclectic styles in a rainbow of colours from this emerging brand. We learn more about the inspiration and creative process from the designer.
Share with us a little about your background and how you got into fashion.
I was born in Colombia, and grew up in a very nomadic, global manner and moved a lot. My dad being French-Colombian and my mum Spanish-German, we were always encountering new cultures and places.
One of my earliest memories is splitting my time between watching fashion TV and trying to sew dresses for my Barbie dolls. I guess I wanted to be a fashion designer since I was four or five.
Since then, my first fashion experience was a handbag company I funded with two friends when I was 16 and studying product design. We learnt so much — we literally knew nothing and constantly were educated by the factory we worked with. I've done styling and writing for fashion magazines, then talent scouting for boutiques supporting emerging talents, as well as brand management. All of these experiences inspired me to start this label and create something that would make women feel great everyday.
Why did you decide to create a handbag line? Why base it in Singapore?
It was a strong desire to create a bag that can withstand trends and time, we're focused on high quality pieces rather than being the flavour of the month. I studied in Singapore for five years and have lived there longer than anywhere — other than my home country— so for me it's definitely a place that has been a huge part of my life. So when I decided to launch the brand, I thought of combining the amazing European craftsmanship with the solid infrastructure that Singapore offers to small companies.
What's the design process like? How long does it take to make a bag?
We start pattern making and sampling seven months ahead of the presentation in Paris as we are developing many shapes simultaneously and they take some trial and error. We add eight new shapes each season, some shapes have become classics, and each bag takes two to four samples per model until it becomes what we are looking for. One bag alone, given that its mostly made by hand, takes 15-26 hours to make.
What inspired the fall/winter 2018 collection?
The collection was a grown-up reunion of some of our classics from earlier seasons as well as more solid colors, which more and more of our customers ask for.
What do you love about this fall/winter 2018 collection?
The colour palette! It has a lot of cherry and textured whites which I'm currently obsessed with, both are tones that are super flattering. We also integrated marine and earthy elements so overall it was an interesting exploration and introduction to the many new shapes we will debut for spring/summer 19.
Do you have a specific woman in mind when you design?
I always think of a strong and feminine character who loves to travel, enjoys life and has a preference for standing out rather than standing down.
What style of bag is your favourite?
I love the butterfly three-way because it's so multifunctional. But I'm also very excited to share that there are two new pieces coming up that have a big place in my heart — the Atena and the Octopus backpack — which will debut next week in Paris!
How would you describe your personal style?
I love Asian designers because they are so daring so SocietyA (where Marie de la Roche is stocked) is definitely a place where I want to buy everything when I visit! I like bold shapes and have a soft spot for colourful suits.
What is your fashion motto?
Be bold, but be you.