The Genteel
April 12, 2021


S/S 2012: Petite Clara small clutch in acid orange nappa leather with studs and crystals applied and milled buckle (Photograph by Daniele Mari).

Once upon a time in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a seven-year-old girl dreamt of being a princess. She played with shoes, bags, jewellery - anything she could find in her grandmother's closet. But this girl didn't want to leave the throne to Prince Charming. She wanted to rule her own castle.

That's why when Paula Cademartori grew up, she got herself a degree in Industrial Design from the Universidade Luterana do Brasil, a master's degree (magna cum laude) in Fashion Accessories from the Istituto Marangoni in Milan, and a "Young Fashion Manager" certificate from Bocconi University, School of Business Administration. She made sure her dreams came true by becoming a fashion designer.

Paula Cademartori
(Photograph by Daniele Mari).

The Paula Cademartori brand marked its international debut in 2011, with the release of its first S/S handbag collection at Milan Fashion Week. Cademartori's bags are now sold worldwide, from China to Saudi Arabia, America to Japan. In February 2012, she will conquer Canada, where her collection will be sold at Vancouver's Secret Location boutique.

Her latest collection is inspired by the famous photo of Faye Dunaway, shot by Terry O'Neill the morning after Dunaway's Oscar win for Network in 1977. The collection evokes the seductive, determined and independent character of her muse.

The accessories world has traditionally been dominated by big brands. How does Cademartori navigate this global chessboard of luxury designs?

Silvia Brambilla: It can be really challenging to start a fashion business in Milan. Why did you decide to move here from Brazil?

Paula Cademartori: I like challenges and my dream has always been to move to Italy. This is the country where timeless things are created, either in fashion or design. I consider Italians the luckiest people in the world because they are always surrounded by beauty and history. For my handmade creations, I wanted to collaborate with Italian artisans and that's why my products are designed, produced and realised in Milan. My brand is 100 per cent Made in Italy.

SB: The Brazilian market is growing quickly. Are you trying to tap into it?

PC: I am definitely interested and, along with my team, I am working on building useful contacts in my country. However, the Brazilian market is still a bit difficult to crack for a small, young brand like mine because I don't have flagship stores yet and this is what Brazilians are interested in nowadays.

SB: Do you plan to open your own stores?

PC: Yes, that is definitely my next goal. With one or more flagship stores, it will be easier to know my clients, to understand their taste, what they like and prefer.

For my collections, I always want to be sure to be using certified materials - the skins I use come from animals killed for nutrition purposes. This is why I work exclusively with Italian tanneries. I know what I buy, and I get high quality and great colouring.

SB: How are you promoting the Paula Cademartori brand?

PC: I am still beginning. My S/S 2012 collection is my third collection and the second one to be sold in stores worldwide. My brand is just a year old! I have no budget for advertising yet, but I want my bags to be more known because they speak for themselves. All of the stores that chose to buy my creations had the courage to take a risk on a new label. This is crucial for young designers and entrepreneurs.

SB: How have the Vogue Talents project and the Who's on Next competition helped your designs?

PC: From 2007 until 2009 I worked as a junior accessories designer at Versace. Thanks to this experience, I was selected for Vogue Talents in September 2009, where my name made Vogue Italia's list of 140 Emerging Designers. In July 2011, I was one of the ten finalists of Who's on Next, organised by Vogue Italia in co-operation with AltaRoma. Both events helped me a lot because they gave me the opportunity to meet and network with as many professionals in the fashion industry as I would have met in ten years! I also had the chance to deal with journalists and buyers. Making useful connections is the real value of these projects.

SB: How hard is it to emerge as a young designer?

PC: It is tough. I came to Italy when I was 21-years-old; now I am 28. I have been working on my dream for years and I am conscious that in the next years, the work will get more and more difficult. I had to give up other things, but I like to express myself through my creations. I would like to introduce something new to this industry.

PC: I am an accessories woman! Bags, shoes, jewels - I love all the things that complement an outfit. I love bags because they are always with you and so useful in your everyday life, but they are also an accessory to show off, to seduce. For the time being, I am enjoying designing bags, but in the next years I would also like to create shoes and jewels.

S/S 2012: Tatiana shoulder bag in tonal avid
mustard nappa leather, raffia and suede
(Photograph by Daniele Mari).

SB: Why only bags?

SB: What characteristics make your bags so timeless?

PC: Perfection and contemporary design are qualities that will hopefully turn my bags into timeless items, used generation after generation. I spend much time studying and developing my creations because, in my opinion, they must have meaning. Some of my bags have a specific pocket for the iPad, for example. All of the changes in society and in our habits are reflected in the products.

SB: Have you ever thought about using artificial leather for your products?

PC: It seems to me that the whole world talks about stopping the use of animal skin, but if the alternative is plastic, no thank you! If we kill animals to feed ourselves, it is right to increase the value of their sacrifice by using their skin as well in order not to waste anything. For my collections, I always want to be sure to be using certified materials - the skins I use come from animals killed for nutrition purposes. This is why I work exclusively with Italian tanneries. I know what I buy, and I get high quality and great colouring.

SB: Made in Italy can be extremely expensive. Have you considered moving your production somewhere else in the future?

PC: I love Made in Italy. I prefer designing a few, perfectly done pieces. I am an Italo-Brazilian designer who adores Italy. Living and working here is a luxury; I will never give up my Italian production! 



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