Interview with designer Tissa Fontaneda
“I first fell in love with accessories as a teenager, sitting in the dining room of a luxury hotel in southern Italy, watching the sophisticated, tanned women in their beautiful summer outfits. I could feel the softness of their leather bags only by looking at them while some of the necklaces they wore reminded me of far away and exotic places. More than just a fashion accessory, it was these individual touches that accentuated the unique personality of each woman wearing them.” Tissa Fontaneda
Driven by a strong desire to merge her creative vision with her expertise in the world of luxury accessories, Tissa launched her eponymous label – classic luxury with a modern twist – in 2010. Characterized by impeccable quality, artisan craftsmanship and attention to detail, the Tissa Fontaneda collection consists of exquisitely designed handbags, necklaces, belts and cuffs, recognizable for their standard of excellence, not their logos. Classic and timeless, a Tissa Fontaneda handbag or accessory is one you will fall in love with over and over again.
If you hadn’t gone to Spain, do you think that your career today would be different?
It’s hard to say but probably yes. Spain still has amazing craftsmanship, outstanding raw material and a long tradition in the domain of luxury handbag manufacturing. All of this was very inspiring and pushed me to create my own brand, however I feel like it would have definitely been easier to launch a luxury handbag brand in Milan or Paris. Madrid is not really in the fashion circuit and it takes longer to become known. On the other hand I eventually might have stopped being part of the Fashion World, had I ended up working for a big French or Italian Fashion house. I know very well that I would not have lasted long. I really think that it was written somewhere that I would create my own collection.
How was the idea of making the “Bubble Bag” born?
There has never been a precise moment. I loved the softness of lambskin from the beginning but felt it needed something to make it less „conservative“. I was looking out for some kind of „3D effect“ and I ended up collaborating with a tannery which got me what I was looking for.
“Imperfection is part of the charm”, this concept makes each piece unique. What is also a principle you remind yourself when designing new collections?
My bags are beautiful and elegant but they have a sporty and casual touch and are available in rich, beautiful colours. The range of designer handbags is huge and making a difference is challenging every time I have to come up with a new collection. Also, the Bubble leather itself is extremely complicated to work with and we are extremely careful to ensure there is little to no waste.
You recently opened your first flagship boutique in London, why was London your first choice?
First and foremost, I absolutely love London and its energy. When I first started the brand, I would come to London to do private sales and I remember walking on Motcomb Street and the area of Belgravia, admiring its little boutiques and niche brands. It sounds crazy, but I vividly remember saying to myself “If I ever own a shop one day, it’ll be here”. Fast forward to today, my new boutique is on Motcomb Street, the most charming little street in London, in my opinion!
In the new boutique, women’s ready-to-wear and menswear accessories are also available. Is there a product you’d like to launch next?
I had been playing with ready-to-wear for a few years and I just couldn’t wait any longer to expand the collection. We have staple pieces that are meant to be mixed and matched with the existing wardrobe, timeless pieces to be worn season after season. My bags are meant for anyone, but I was happy to be able to design a capsule of accessories for men, from an everyday crossbody to a large travel tote. I have a passion for perfumes. I hope I’ll be able to work on a scent very soon.
Education is a necessity for children, as you said: with every Surprise Shopper Handbag sold, a percentage goes to The Roxas Foundation. Helping others has always made an impact on your way of perceiving things or creating?
Absolutely, but this kind of help must be constructive. It‘s not just about giving money! Helping with offering the right education to children should be our major concern.
Interview with designer Tissa Fontaneda