Creative Director Stuart Vevers On the Spanish House’s Liberating Legacy
The expertise and meticulous detail that go into crafting iconic Spanish luxury brand Loewe’s signature Amazona bag is revealed in director Matthew Donaldson’s short. The film follows the release of Masters of Leather, a limited-edition book, illustrated by Robert Clarke, that looks in depth at Loewe’s commitment to handicraft. Initially inspired by the frank simplicity of Richard Avedon’s In the American West portraits, the film is a personal homage to the leather workers who have handmade Loewe’s creations for generations. “Some of our craftsmen have been at Loewe for nearly 50 years, they contribute so much to the design of our pieces,” says accessories golden boy Stuart Vevers, who has turned the Amazona into the label’s best-selling product. Launched in 1975, the Amazona bag is handcrafted from 61 separate pieces of fine leather in a 250-step process that requires the four separate artisans using 45 different tools. Vevers, who previously held design posts at Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton, spoke to NOWNESS about the Amazona and being an Englishman in Spain.
How does the Amazona capture the Loewe legacy and aesthetic?
To be honest when I first arrived [at Loewe, in 2008] I didn’t really like the bag, so I asked, “Why do we still have it? What is it about it?” I was told the story of how it was born. It was 1975 at the end of the dictatorship in Spain and the Amazona was designed to celebrate a new freedom for women who had been suppressed under the dictatorship, hence the name. It was designed to be liberating because it was soft and beautiful—the first 24-hour bag from Loewe. I know lots of bags but I’ve never heard a story like that.
What is it like working with artisans who have been a part of Loewe for generations?
It’s the first time I have been so close to the people behind a brand. In the winter '09 season I worked with one of the master modelists who had been at Loewe for 50 years. As an experiment I didn’t do any design and just described what I wanted—he would go away and make something, then come back and I would be like, “Maybe a bit more round.” I’ve never done that before. The piece that came out looked like it had been designed.
Is it a challenge being an Englishman working for a quintessentially Spanish label?
It’s a challenge and an opportunity. It’s the only luxury house from Spain and it means you can say things about authenticity. There’s a lot of French and Italian luxury houses, but Loewe is the only Spanish one.
Do you feel Loewe has a responsibility to make a statement about Spanish culture?
In a way I do, and it makes me nervous––I didn’t grow up here so I get lots of advice. It’s not just a responsibility to the culture; it’s a responsibility to the craft, the people and the jobs. We make all of our bags in Spain and how we move forward is going to have an effect on the Spanish luxury industry. I’m always asking who the best person in Spain to do something is. Then we go and meet them and it’s really exciting to work with these people who are small specialists.