Paula Cademartori

Tell us about yourself. “My family is of Italian descent but I was born in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, in the south of Brazil. As a child I spent a lot of time with my maternal grand­mother, playing in her wardrobe with her jewels, dresses and accessories – I think that is where my love of accessories began and it drew me to design. I graduated in industrial design in Brazil and learnt Italian for a year so that I could go to Milan when I was 21, to do my master’s in fashion accessories at the Istituto Marangoni.”

How does your heritage play out in your designs? “I am a mix of Brazilian soul and Italian luxury handcraftsmanship. I bring the colours, the light, the mixing of materials from Brazil. I remember the colours of the landscape and the way I played with colour as a child.”

The Kate bag by Paula Cademartori

How has the use of artisanal craftsmanship become part of your design DNA?“The Italians know about luxury and it is important that the quality of handcrafts­man­ship found in Italy keeps challenging me. I have used intarsia leather inlay techniques on my handbags for six years and I love pushing the artisans I work with in Milan with new ideas.”

How has street-style photography played a role in your success? “It was perfect timing. I launched my business in 2010, just before street style started to have visibility, and I was getting the right handbags on the right people like [editor-at-large at Vogue Japan] Anna Dello Russo, [Russian ‘it’ girl] Miroslava Duma, [socialite] Olivia Palermo, blogger J.J. Martin and, more recently, [models] Liu Wen and Bella Hadid.”

The Twi Twi bag by Paula Cademartori

Why do you think women buy so many bags? “I don’t know if women are buying more bags than they used to, but I think of handbags as your partner in crime; they know all your secrets. I think women wear heels to seduce men and they buy handbags to show off to other women. The shoe is feminine and sexy and completes your silhouette while a handbag gives you power. There is no such thing as the ‘it’ bag any more: it is now about diversity, so why stop at one handbag when you can express yourself with more.”


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