While studying at Parsons School of Design, Colombians Melissa Losadaand Marcela Velez discovered a shared interest in translating old-worldluggage into everyday chic. "We're both from the same place, but we hadnever met," remembers Losada. They met one late night at the now-defunct Bungalow 8 and started talking. "Ever since it's sort of been fate."
Fate yielded a line of luxury handbags under the moniker M2Malletier, which debuts at the Plaza Hotel this New York Fashion Week.
"We wanted the same things out of our day-to-day bags. Nothing too over-the-top, just something that had that perfect balance," says Losada. The elegantly crafted styles come in six shapes and traditional tones (black, ivory) or the more daring plum and forest green.
But the key, head-turning signature is what the designers call "the needle." In either gunmetal or polished plated gold, the needle is a handle unlike any other, and which Losada and Velez spent some two years developing with engineers in Spain. "We were really inspired by medieval medical instruments, swords and armor for our first season," says Velez.
"We offset all that was classic with the handle's surrealist quality," Losada explains. "I guess that's what you get when you stare at iron rods all day."
M2Malletier is the kind of line that aims to stand up to heritage brands like Fendi or Hermès. Fully lined in leather, the bags are produced in the factory that manufactures Loewe. Losada says, "What was important to us was straddling what was classic and what was modern in our own eyes. We kept even our production quite traditional."