“There is no friend as loyal as a book,” said Ernest Hemingway. Well, Maria Marigliano Caracciolo reckons there’s no better fashion accessory, either! And we agree. Enter Bags By M. Book Clutches, Maria’s luxury bespoke brand. We sat down with this inspiring Italian designer to learn more about her bag of tricks:
What are Bags By M. Book Clutches?
Your favourite book most likely embodies your very soul. Your sense of fashion communicates the same. What better accessory, then, than one that combines the two? By M. Book Clutches are bespoke and handmade in the traditional Italian bookbinding fashion. Maria sources all materials – the leather, fabric, gold leaf and silk – locally.
Already in love? Well, you’re amongst good company. The clutches have caused a stir, and are being worn by A-listers, musicians and royalty! Think Alicia Keys, the Delevingne sisters, or Princess Beatrice Borromeo Casiraghi of Monaco.
“The finished book-clutch, with its own title and details, represents a true expression of my customers, in an ironic and sophisticated way, that conventional ‘fashion’ doesn’t often allow.” ~ Maria
True Neapolitan Tradition
Bags By M. stems from Maria’s great love for Naples and from her love of old books – “Which was somehow predestined”, she muses. Indeed, predestined is right! In the heart of old Naples lies the Palazzo Marigliano. This historic aristocratic mansion is a 15th-century Italian national monument. It’s also Maria’s family home. Part of the palazzo is also home to the Regional Archives of Naples. What’s more, the stables were converted to accommodate the Legatoria Artigiana di Palazzo Marigliano. This is one of the best-known bookbinders in Naples. Even the Vatican uses them! Maria could not miss out on the opportunity: “The proximity to my suppliers was undeniably a source of inspiration.”
All Bags By M. Book Clutches are made entirely by hand in the Legatoria Artigiana bookbindery. Faithful to the artisanal spirit, Maria, together with her team “seek to perpetuate the Neapolitan tradition of high quality and excellence”.
The Authentic Art of Bookbinding
Naples has a long history of bespoke tailoring. Bags By M. Book Clutches takes its bookbinding tradition coupled with its fashion sense and produces an unconventional, yet traditional clutch bag. The team uses only the best Italian materials. Five artisans, each of whom possesses expertise handed down through generations, perform every step entirely by hand.
Firstly, Gennaro works and prepares the leather. Then Luigi installs the moire silk lining and side wings. Thereafter, Giovanni embosses the cover and back with the selected book title, decorations and personalised Ex Libris (meaning ‘from the library of’) in gold leaf. He uses antique bronze stamps that have been used on actual antique books. After that, Luigi assembles the cover and spine and leaves it to press overnight. Lastly, Gennaro’s mother Lucia provides the hand-sewn pouch inserted into each clutch. “My collections are also a way to promote Naples and its wonderful culture,” explains Maria, “Culture is the finest accessory nowadays.”
Where to get a By M Clutch
Visit the official Bags By M. E-shop, where you can choose from the standard classics or customise your own creation on the ‘bespoke’ page. There’s even an array of limited edition fabrics to choose from. “There’s nothing more personal than the book you’re reading – or carrying, as in our case,” Maria advises, “So, the first big step is to think about one good book which reflects who you are, and after to think about colours and decorations.”
Additionally, you can choose any title you please, in any language using roman letters. You can also invent one!
“Personalisation is our strongest characteristic. You can personalise every detail of the clutches according to preference.” ~ Maria
Seek inspiration for your design and watch Maria’s journey. Follow Bags By M. Book Clutches on Instagram.