“I’d hate to think that anyone’s identity is wrapped up in a bag, but it’s certainly a form of expression,” says designer John Guidi of fashion’s favorite accessory. “It’s the punctuation on an outfit.”
Raised between Southern California and Massachusetts and currently based in Los Angeles, Guidi has always been interested in aesthetics and design. “When I was 10 years old, honest to god, I had my father help me construct a Chanel headboard out of Styrofoam,” he laughs. “I was a fifth grader with a homemade, interlocking ‘C’ headboard.” A graduate of Parsons, Guidi worked in the creative departments of Barneys New York, Steven Alan, Ralph Lauren, and Vivienne Westwood before starting his own accessories line, Etelka, towards the end of 2012. “I think I’m bringing a little of these influence to Etelka,” he adds of his past employers.
Guidi begins each Etelka collection by selecting his materials and color palette. For Fall/Winter 2014, he favored upholstery fabrics, leather, and coated linen. “They had a bit of a futuristic vibe to them,” he notes. Etelka’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection, however, is all about leather, with two-tone shoulder bags and clutches in cracked leather, metallic leather, and suede, many of which fasten to form a clever capital “E.” Some styles are missing the “E,” but not the careful construction: a classic, off-white, mock-croc tote is fitted with a stiff black strap frozen in a pretzel-like shape with just enough room for the crook of an elbow to slide through. His mood board, Guidi tells us, was dominated by Miami architecture.
As for the Etelka woman, Guidi notes that can think of a few of his close friends: “They are all stylish, of course, but also very independent and unique in their approach to dressing,” he says. “A lot of the women in my life collect vintage, and they often put together the most incredible, totally unexpected looks. I would hate to think there is only one woman, or one way to wear my pieces.”
ETELKA IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN LIMITED STYLES AT BRAND ASSEMBLY AT LORD & TAYLOR AND AT AMERICAN TWO STEP, NEW YORK. YOU CAN ALSO ORDER STYLES ONLINE AT THE LABEL’S WEBSITE.