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Monday, April 18, 2011

One Word: “Mallarino”

If you didn’t catch this AWESOME Interview on the Daily Front Row… well here it is. Read and Luxuriate over Colombia and Paris combined… ooo la la

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A Moment With…Lucia Bueno- Mallarino

 

Lucia Bueno-Mallarino Lucia Bueno-Mallarino
© AlexDDR
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(PARIS) Mallarino is the jewellery brand that has been whispered from one Parisian fashionette to another, for several seasons. The Daily caught up with co-founder Lucia Bueno-Mallarino in her chic Parisian apartment to chat about their recent explosion on Net-a-porter.com and the stunning craftsmanship that goes into their signature filigree jewellery. D'ARCY FLUECK

 


Tell us about the beginnings of Mallarino.
My sister was doing a Ph.D. in Law, based in Colombia, and she met a couple of artisans who were having some problem. In Spanish, we call them desplazados—displaced people, basically. She said, “We have to do something with them. It’s beautiful, what they’re doing.” So she started it herself, actually, becoming friends with a group of them. They started showing me what they do, and it was amazing, manually, but it was very ugly. So we started designing and working with them.


The jewellery is obviously very crafted and labour-intensive.
It’s filigree, so you have to think of it like if you were making lace—like true lace, like the old ladies in Normandy do. You take the silver or the gold and you make thread of it. That process is very hard, because you have to make a fine thread in order to make all the little magical shapes. It’s like crochet. Every single pattern has a name, there are about 7 or 8 of them. So I imagine the jewellery, I draw it on a square, and then we try to make it exactly as I drew it, if possible. But it almost always is, since it’s all hand-made.

 
You started around the beginning of the financial crisis. How did that affect your business?
Everyone was complaining about how bad they were doing, but we didn’t know any better. The crisis made so many people look into things that were manually done, more like haute couture, where there was a story. We’re ecologically friendly, it’s also fair trade. It’s also, “OK, we're here, but it’s made in Colombia and we’re Colombian.” So the whole story and the product itself was very appealing. Obviously, I don’t think we did amazing sales but people like the Bon Marché bought, Frank et Fils, and a couple of very nice stores in London as well. And now were on Net-a-porter, which is really huge. So it’s working, I guess!


How did Net-a-Porter come about?
I met with the buyer through a friend of ours actually, at a party, a screening of an Iranian movie. It’s this girl that we know called Ginevra Elkann, which is like the Fiat family, who sponsors many things like that. I started talking to this lovely, very beautiful American girl, and she’s looking at my jewellery going, “Oh my God, I love it. You have to bring it to the office and we have to see it, I’m the buyer for Net-a-porter.” So I went to see them at the offices, and they all loved it.


Is Net-a-Porter your entry point to the States?
We sold to other places. There’s Anthropologies--they have three flagships in New York that are a bit more high-end. So we have already worked with them, and we’re working with them still. Hopefully – it’s like everything in life, and that’s why I think guys like the Bon Marché and Net-a-Porter will always remain a reference, because they’re the ones that spot you first. I’m sure other department stores have the same money to buy, but they’ll never take the risk of taking in a new designer and showing them, like Colette will do or Theresa in Germany. Those are the kind of people that go to the tradeshows. They’re silent, and you can’t even tell if they’re buyers because they’re just there just doing the job, and then they come and say, “Let me get an order of that, that, and that." You ask who they are, and you’re not surprised to know. So it’s really nice. It hopefully means that we get bigger exposure. We’ve only been on the website for like 10 days, and I can tell you I’ve been busy! And we now are doing a showroom. We’re going to have a proper showroom in a nice area.


You’ll be selling by appointment?
Yes, it will be open during weekdays. It’s on avenue Hoche and it’s very private, and it should be ready in about two months. And now we’ve engaged a PR company, Bismarck Phillips. We already have Vogue Italia and Vogue Germany calling. Harper’s Bazaar took things in. So it’s just the beginning. I’m very happy it’s happening now and not two years ago when I wasn’t ready, production-wise.


Who would you like to see wearing your jewellery?
Queen Rania, Alexa Chung, Cate Blanchett. With those three, there’s a sense of elegance. They could be wearing something trendy and not look vulgar at all. I like prettiness and sophistication, and I hate what’s vulgar, even if it’s fashion and cool. I’m not ready to sell my soul for fashion yet.

 

Photo Credits: DailyFrontRow.com, AlexDDR

Article Reference: D'ARCY FLUECK

 

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