Can you imagine a woman without a bag? Not really. Every woman in the world has her small world in her bag, where everything is organized by her rules. Moreover, a bag is a statement of a woman’s status, her inner expression and attitude, it is part of her inner self.
Laura De Barbieri the designer of LoLaDB bags is not creating faceless-just-a- bag pieces, she creates a whole concept, connecting design with heritage. She puts her soul in every piece of every bag she creates, carefully choosing materials and coordinating the whole manufacture process.
We met the heart and soul of the brand LoLaDB at Laura’s showroom in Prague for an exclusive interview where we were warm welcomed and had a personal tour around. Smell of leather, mix of antique and modern design pieces of furniture create a specific atmosphere of elegance and style.
Q: How long are you in Prague?
A:Too long maybe (she smiles). I was born in Milan. When I was very little we moved to France and later to Germany. I did the university between Milan and Munich and than….love brought me to Prague. I said “I will move if I like the city, if I find a job..” I loved the city immediately! I recall I was crossing the bridge from the National Theater to Kampa (author: talking about Legion Bridge). Every time when I’m crossing this bridge I have a very strong feeling of beauty that is embracing you! I love the river as well. Every time when I needed inspiration in Prague I was going to look at the water. This river is very maternal to me till today.
I found work very soon for Lobkowicz. It was a very very interesting work for me.I was spending 8 years with them doing a pioneer work: rebuilt a historical art and book collection spread in different places and make it accessible to both scientists and the public. I loved it, had to physically move the items, while at the same time research the content. I always love it, when I can combine this kind of things.
Q: So now Czech language helps you a lot, for example to communicate with customers?
A: I don’t know. I just feel better. I wanted to learn Czech even if I spoke already English, Italian, German and French. For me it is respect for the country and the people. Because you live in a country which is not yours; I actually don’t know which is mine. When for example I am going to Italy people are asking me: “Oh you are going home?” I reply: “Home? No, I live here.” This is my home, where I have my things, where I have my work.” So, yeah, I really wanted to speak Czech and I put an effort to do this.
Q: So you can say you have got lucky?
A: In fact, yes. I ended up taking care of this historical library of the Lobcowicz family with 36 000 volumes. A big challenge since I had a relative small budget for it and just one assistant. It gave me the opportunity to become an expert in Renaissance books and work together with various universities, like Charles University. I ended up lecturing as well.
Q: In English or in Czech?
A: In Czech. It was not my idea (she laughs). It was a challenge. In fact I love challenges.
Q:So how you came up with idea of bag design?
A: Let me tell you a story (smiling).
Maybe one day you too will be sitting alone on this city bench so close to the maternal river in late September, with no more tears, planning your escape. To escape, to fly away from fear. People will come and go, not paying attention to you. The knight on the severe Gothic monument will not be able to provide help. You have to fall down, if you want to bounce back.
Your bag, open on this bench, will contain the main part of your world: your ID, your phone, and a bunch of papers filled with all your recent annotations, folded and refolded to save space. A bag with a world which is not supposed to exist but has to exist in order to save you. A witness to your survival instinct.After your new start, you may also begin to create those typical little woman’s worlds, which are called ‘bags’, and to help other women in need.Audacity and risk, LoLaDB bags were born this way and LoLaDB will forever be committed to the cause ‘End Violence against Women!’
Q: How many years you spent to build your company?
A: I would say I was working on it for about 2 years and I opened a company in spring 2013.
Q: Did you start to design bags because it was your inspiration or you were thinking about the future business?
A: No, I don’t think much about the business. I was designing already when I was very young. Now I am implementing my idea to create timeless, vivid and soulful objects.using my strong sensibility and live experiences. That’s it
Q: Do you already have a boutique or you just have a showroom in Czech Republic? Store?
A: Not now. So far I am selling in private events and directly out of my showroom; I like this personal touch. I made my website and added a few private representatives in Switzerland, Italy and France. Than an Italian e-shop added my collection and now the collection will be available in SPRMRKT, an avant-garde concept store in Amsterdam. That is a big step forward for me!
We don’t have store in Prague yet, but would love to. Here I am filling a gap, because you have the big brands which are very well-known, but it is always the same name, or you have the ‘cheap’ copies that you will also find everywhere. A woman who wants to be elegant, who can afford something and wants to create her personal style has not a lot of choice here. This is something I would like the Czech women to learn: to be more self-confident, to be more personal, to go ahead and follow her good instinct. Be yourself. Mix things. Don’t be afraid to mix. My bags are designed for that kind women (smiling).
Q: Do you cooperate with some Czech designers?
A: Not yet.
Q: How do you choose the leather and other materials you work with?
A: I choose my materials according to softness, resistance originality and beauty. My leather is a high quality one, coming from Tuscany. I am choosing very carefully, sourcing those materials and techniques that fit the concept of the my design best. For example, I am very proud to use one fabric made by hand on a historical wooden weaving loom. This fabric was used for folklore. I made it mine, combining it in a way never used before.
Q: All your bags you do yourself or someone is helping you?
A: I design, than I create a prototype of fabric, paper, etc. Together with the factory we are making a prototype from leatherStep by step we go to the final version.. We continue to work with prototypes until I am completely satisfied. I like to keep in mind one question: “Can we go to Milan with this? To Berlin? London?”
Q: How long does it usually take? From the moment when this idea was born to the first example of bag?
A: It can take a week, or it can take months.
Q: What is your inspiration?
A: I’m very much inspired by architecture and poetry. When I’m walking I concentrate on myself, sometimes reading in my head some poetry that I like and I am watching at the details that are surrounding me. Those walks with architecture and poetry are very important. At some point forms, shapes appears in my head. I go home and start drawing and then I start to think about it, to develop an idea and make a prototype.
Q: Do you see what bag suits for particular person?
A: Yes, I immediately see it. I try to understand the soul of a person, I look at the silhouette and how person walks. I like to give a woman something she didn’t know she wanted, that suits her and makes her feel stronger. I often hear when i show them my choice: “…it is the one I prefer!”. I enjoy this personal approach and this form of solidarity, it is very intimate.
Q: So the same bag would look different with 2 different women?
A: Bags from LoLaDB are not like most other bags from different brands where it is “you and the bag”. LoLaDB is “you with the bag”, your personality forms the bag. Every bag has a name. For example, she-wolf collection. She-wolf is a fighter, a very good mother, she follows instincts. Every bag has a different sensation. You want to touch it, feel it. When I have a presentation I say to the people “Go ahead, touch it, make it yours!”.One of my clients even slept on it!.
Q: Do you think a bag should be combined with something, like shoes, for example?
A: It should, but it doesn’t have to be the same color or material. First the shape and then the structure. Don’t be boring, but create your own style. Elegance starts inside.
Q: So your concept came from women’s world?
A: Yes, I design bags that I like to wear myself.,
I have an idea of a woman, active, engaged, maternal, fighter, lover and more. And I keep in mind the way I am living, working and that I will always be elegant.
Q: What about color combination? Like white is a summer color, black is more winter one.
A: Today there are no rules. You make the rules. We are not in the 50s, there is no dictates you have to experiment what is good for you and what you really like.
Contact Laura De Barbieri | Designer
LoLaDB aTeLier shOwrOOm
Radiopalac – Vinohradska 40
120 00 Praha 2 – Czech Republic