Anthony Luciano‘s designs are for your over the top kooky relative. You know the one: a few parts Little Edie, a dash of Holly Golightly and a bedazzle of Liberace. Meeting him at his studio this past week re-sparked my love of the exotic and over the top. Anthony’s designs are custom made for countless unique personalities that crave something well made that goes against the grain. Using vintage frames sourced from all over the world, exotic skins, furs, feathers, beading and leather flowers, he’s able to create pieces that ooze luxury and spark the imagination. The unique experience of being able to connect directly with a designer and make your whims and fancies come true, is so refreshing in a sea of business driven corporate fast fashion full of “it” bags that end up spewing countless knock-offs. I’m on a constant search for something of quality that’s special, and Anthony’s creations are just that. Located in the heart of the garment district, his studio is hand crafting priceless pieces that will surely be passed down to future generations.
So let’s get started! How did you find yourself in fashion design? I understand your parents had some influence?
Anthony showing off some of his favorite bags.
My mom was a seamstress and my dad was a carpenter, but my creative pursuits were all my own. I grew up in a very rural area in upstate NY. I wasn’t exposed to a whole lot as a kid.
It’s so important to have access to the arts. Especially when you’re a kid.
Yeah, I try to give back. I teach handbag design for G.O.A.L. (giving open access to learning) when I can. Some of the kids come in and are very serious about learning and it’s so cool seeing them grow. It’s also just a safe and interesting place for them to be on a Saturday afternoon.
That’s so great! Children can be so inspiring in themselves. So, did you eventually study design?
Yeah I moved to NYC after high school and studied fashion design at FIT and I loved it, but found apparel wasn’t quite right for me.
Just a few of his custom pieces with vintage frames
I find allot of us in the industry start with apparel design and find our ways to other creative outlets in the field.
Yeah, I started doing accessories just for fun and I loved it. It was just right.
Isn’t that how things work? It’s great that you found what’s fun for you and became so successful for it.
It happens that way. I never had a direct path. I kept myself open to doing different things. I also just love that there’s no fit with handbags.
Handbags don’t discriminate!
You could be feeling fat one day and grab an amazing bag and your ready to go. It’s great for everybody.
Shall we talk about the cabinet with all of the vintage frames! It’s beautiful.
Countless unique vintage frames
Oh you saw the cabinet over there did you?
Haha Yes! Where is that all sourced?
They are all sourced from all over the world. There’s real Bakelite, tortoise, ivory, sterling silver, precious stones, micro-mosaics, and countless other beautifully detailed frames.
A lot of the time does your process begin with looking at a vintage frame and then you create around it?
Most times. I usually go to the cabinet and pull some frames that are inspiring me that day, because that’s always changing, and then I look at leathers and skins and see what works with the style of the frame. The frame usually speaks to me and then it goes from there.
Do you research the frames at all?
I’d love to but it would be very difficult seeing most of them come from dealers and not the original owner. But I can figure out what period it came from. I love thinking of the women who used to carry it and what her life was like and also the future that it has with its new owner.
Is there a certain type of person that you are designing for?
There’s not really a set client, but I can say that they are very eclectic and extremely independent women who don’t need a label to justify their style. They have everything else and they come to me for really special pieces they don’t care about labels. It’s his or her initials that matter not someone else’s.
White snake skin clutch with vintage crystals
So you meet with your clients to make specific bags?
Oh yeah! I have many people that come right here to my studio. People get so excited about creating something for themselves. They can come in and pick up a bag and say I want this, but in hot pink alligator.
That’s very cool. Not allot of designers do that. I feel like most bags just come off of a conveyer belt somewhere.
Yeah it’s very cool and fun for me to meet these women in person. It’s feels like spending the afternoon with a friend playing dress up.
On that note how do you feel about “it” bags and trend driven design?
I mean we live in a society that’s “throw away” everything. And I pride myself in making beautiful pieces that people can carry ten years from now. We do some trend driven things, but it’s not over the top. We try not to pay attention but we have to. When it comes down to it I stay true to my own design. I like beautiful detailed work and that’s what I’d like to be known for not for having an “it” bag.
So what are you super excited about for spring/summer?
Well, we’ve shipped out most of the collection because I’m going to Florida to do a show with Neiman’s. But we just did this purple python and feather tote bag for a client that I love.
Python and feather tote bag!?
Purple, Python, and Feathered! Oh My!
Yeah, it’s pretty insane. The bag is all python. She called and said, “Python, feathers, and purple. GO!” Clients like that are so much fun. We have another women in Florida who has cowboy boots made to match her bags and vice versa. She’s fantastic.
Oh I would love to see that outfit! I bet her manicure matches everything. Head to toe dressing. We tend to steer our clients away from that, but I appreciate someone who walks to the beat of his or her own drum!
I’m pretty sure she’s her own stylist. She’s so cool.
These women really are the gems of the industry! If it weren’t for them there wouldn’t be purple, snakeskin, and feathered tote bags in the world.
Exactly, and I’m here to make their eccentric dreams come true!
-Brandon Giordano: Associate Stylist