In Whatever It Takes, PAPER dives deep into the stories behind your favorite brands — all the hours, people, and craftsmanship it took to create the final product.
Ferragamo: 15 People Per Pair
Ferragamo's beaded flat from spring 2019 is one of the most intricate footwear options of the season. Shining glass beads in a multitude of colors cover the surface of the leather flats, lined with suede piping and a satin base. The shoe is produced in Italy. Overall it takes at least 15 different people, all with a variety of different skills, to complete a single pair.
Producing the shoes is a feat. It takes four hours to do all of the beaded embroidery by hand, then another five hours to produce the other elements of the shoe. The pair, a piece of artwork by this point, needs to rest three nights with the lasts inside of them before they're ready to be shipped.
Bottega Veneta: Two Days of Weaving
To say Bottega Veneta's focus is on intricate craftsmanship would be an understatement. Take, for example, the Cabat bag in blue and black. This bag is made by hand: thin strips of double-faced leather, dubbed 'fettucce,' are woven together. The bag was first conceived in 2001 when Bottega Veneta introduced its signature intrecciato craftsmanship.
New to the brand, Creative Director Daniel Lee (who is quickly becoming one to watch) put his own creative flair on the bag by making the strips of leather wider for the Maxi Cabat — 4-centimeter wide strips, to be specific. The Cabat bag is made from 20 nappa leather strips and it takes a cool two full days to complete.
Gucci: 1970s Research
Gucci Creative Director Alesandro Michele is not one to shy away from bold prints, colors and accessories. For spring 2019, the designer reimagined the Ace sneaker by covering it in cartoon print strawberries. Michele looked to colorful designs from the 1970s to get inspiration for the shoes, which are rendered in ivory leather with green and red details and a rubber sole.
The sneakers are made in Italy, from calfskin. As for the print, it's a signature of the spring 2019 collection, appearing on fabrics and other ready-to-wear items from the brand. Look out for the one strawberry that appears to be bitten into — there's a discreet Gucci logo just above the teeth marks.
Louis Vuitton: 8 Hours of Craftsmanship
Louis Vuitton's Mini Luggage Bag may be small, but the craft that goes into it is unrivaled. Made of monogram canvas with natural cowhide leather carefully applied to the corners, strap and reinforcements, the bag comes with a sturdy leather handle and metal chain.
It takes leather workers approximately 7-8 hours to craft each Mini Luggage bag, and each one remains an instant classic for the future of fashion.
The artisans position curved corners in natural cowhide, shape the bag with a mold and assemble and sew the hard handle in natural cowhide leather, all by hand. This bag also has history to it: it's essentially a mini version of the house's classic 1960s suitcases, such as the Alzer, Ruban Bleue and Sirius.
Celine: Collaborating With Christian Marclay
Christian Marclay Bag by Celine
For Hedi Slimane's debut show for Celine, the visionary collaborated with the iconic artist Christian Marclay to create prints and couture embroideries for ready to wear clothing and accessories. For the occasion, Slimane focused on his own sort of couture, producing hand embroidered jackets, dresses, coats and other items in the Celine atelier for the show.
This particular bag is made of lush black velvet and embroidered with Marclay's work. The artist's own paintings and collages take inspiration from elements carefully sourced vintage comics: hence the embroidered "beep" phrase scattered throughout. These flashes of Marclay's artwork can also be found in patches on the back of jackets and parkas throughout Celine's spring 2019 collection.
Balenciaga: A Fully Activated LED System
For Balenciaga's spring 2019 show, artist Jon Rafman's experimental and verging on psychedelic video work, "The Ride Never Ends," was projected in an LED tunnel. The effect was mesmerizing. To that end, Balenciaga has created a boot that contains some of the very some mind-blowing tech elements for retail.
From a faraway glance, the shoes appear to be just a normal pair of high-shine heeled boots. But upon further inspection, the Balenciaga logo is transmitted in a spectrum of LED lights just above the sole. The boots contain a charger hidden in the heels, and the LED system is activated by a button hidden on the sole. Choose between 10 different light and color displays which project on the shoes for up to 10 hours. Consider this a much-needed update on those light-up sneakers from your childhood.
Bally: Custom Machinery
Since 1969, the Bally brand has presented its Janelle buckle on patent leather loafers and a range of update shoe styles. For fans, the large, flat square buckle has become a hallmark of the label throughout time. For spring 2019, Bally has crafted the Janelle bag to match its iconic shoe selection.
Utilizing the same well-loved chunky buckle, the rectangular bag has a short top handle and is rendered in calf leather. The Janelle bag is assembled in a particular way dubbed "fit assembly" by the brand. First, the bag is constructed around a wooden shape. This building method allows the bag to maintain the rectangular shape that identifies with the Janelle style internally and externally. The various parts of the bag are then sewn through machinery created specifically for this model of bag. The bag is then finished with a polished wax rib. To top it all off, the iconic Janelle Bag closure has been created with a special mold and has a mechanism with a 90° snap closure, so it always automatically returns to the exact opening and closing point.
Cartier: 70 Sapphires
Les Galaxies de Cartier Ring by Cartier
For spring, Cartier created a limited edition collection of fine jewelry inspired by the cosmos called Les Galaxies de Cartier. The brand has combined craftsmanship with a deep sense of exploration to create pieces that challenged the creative concepts of what fine jewelry is: brilliant gold is used as a vessel to let diamonds and gems sparkle in a new light; Gems are arranged in unconventional, creative ways.
The Les Galaxies de Cartier ring is one of the stunners from the collection. Made of 18-karat yellow gold, 24 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling 0.64 carats, 70 yellow and blue sapphires, 12 fire opals, there are only a limited edition of 30 numbered pieces worldwide. The ring, like its matching bracelet and pendant, is designed so that a flow of moving stones are mounted upon a rail which radiates continuously.
Balmain: Mountaineering Leather
With its mirror-like finish, Balmain's new Polygon bucket bag comes with an added accessory: a bracelet that can be worn with or without the bag on its own. The bag is crafted out of calfskin and lined with Crosta, a durable kind of leather used for the likes of mountaineering footwear.
The silver bracelet detaches from the bag with a set of rings, turning the bag into more of a clutch than a bucket bag, whenever the wearer pleases. The soft calf leather easily lends itself to a transforming shape. There's also a silver chain attached to the bag, should you want to go bracelet-free. Consider this one a two-in-one investment.
Dior: Hand-Cut, Hand-Sewn
There are many elements that go into making Dior's Oblique Saddle bag. First, the oblique jacquard canvas and calfskin leather details are cut and sewn by hand. To get the unique shape of the timeless bag (a must-have through the ages), the artisans use a wooden mold to shape the leather and canvas. The pieces are then stitched together with the addition of the metal hardware and gold Dior logo.
Lead photo courtesy of Dior / Product photography by Therese Aldgard