Like many, watching the Emmy’s red carpet event is something I look forward to every year. Reveling in the glamorous gowns, the sparkling jewels and the beautiful shoes and bags is more exciting to me than finding out who actually wins the awards. This year, I was particularly excited to see Judith Light
who received her first ever Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, Transparent. Why her, you ask? I have never watched Transparent but I have been a fan of Light since her days on Who’s the Boss? and was delighted to welcome her back to television in her many cameo appearances on the now-cancelled favorite, Law & Order. So, what’s causing my excitement over this legendary actress who has mastered the skill of aging gracefully? It’s her purse, of course!
Just a couple days before the award show, I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek at the gorgeous piece that was created just for Light. More importantly, I had the pleasure of meeting with the ingenious artist, Anthony Luciano, who imagined and crafted her beautiful one-and-only statement accessory. Commissioned by Light’s stylist to fashion the finishing touch to Light’s Alexandra Vidal gown, Jimmy Choo shoes, and Bergdorf jewelry, Anthony Luciano’s gunmetal ombré metallic bag in python mounted on the 1930’s art deco vintage frame with cut steel beads and marcasite stones could not have been more complementary.
I was not surprised to find that Light is not Luciano’s only celebrity client. Rightly so, following his graduation from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, his lifelong cultivation in the art of handbag design and making is one that not many can claim today. His team of leather artisans are also incredibly talented and have decades of experience behind them to support Luciano’s mission.
What I absolutely adore about Luciano is not just the originality of his designs but his desire to incorporate the old with the new. For one, the use of antique purse frames in his modern constructions breathes new life into previously retired works of art. Another is the sewing of a penny into each and every bag’s lining, an Italian tradition for prosperity and good luck. In today’s world of mass-produced handbags, where else could you find such endearing qualities in a purse?
Therefore, when women of status want to carry an object of envy that no other women has, it’s not surprising that Anthony Luciano comes to mind. In Anna Johnson’s Handbags: 900 Bags to Die for,
at least five of Luciano’s creations are listed in parallel to the likes of Hermès’s Kelly and Christian Dior’s Lady Dior. To be recognized in such a way is quite an amazing accomplishment given that Luciano’s bags are all individually hand made with care in his studio, which you can find in an unassuming building within NYC’s renowned Garment District.
Luciano’s Business Development Director, Amy Weiss, summed it up best: “It is not the most efficient way to make bags and there’s certainly no mass production here [and] there’s no one out there who does what [Anthony Luciano] does”. Amy would know, she spent thirteen years as a buyer for Bergdorf’s before deciding to join Luciano’s team in 2016.
Despite his achievements, Luciano remains humble and easily relatable. A self-described “Chief cook and bottle washer at Anthony Luciano Custom Handbag & Accessories”, Luciano has a sense of humor and ease that makes him comfortable to be around. He loves his job and wants to find patrons who appreciate and cherish the material, time, and energy that goes into each masterpiece. This anxiety has been one of the reasons why his bags are not readily accessible everywhere. Luciano prefers to sell directly to the clients rather than through third-party distributors. Much like traditional artwork, Luciano believes that knowing the creative people behind the brand and understanding the process it takes to bring the bags to the shelf play major roles in the owner’s appreciation of the end product. Therefore, besides being carried in limited quantities at Bergdorf’s and select Neiman Marcus locations, you would be hard pressed to find Luciano’s collection anywhere outside of his studio.
Still, having such exclusivity in accessibility and quality, the most shocking thing of all is the brand’s price point.
Consider for a moment that a Hermès Birkin bag in crocodile starts around $30,000 (assuming you can actually get your hands on one), the fact that you can get a custom ordered crocodile bag of your choice starting at $9,000 with Anthony Luciano is a steal! Of course, if crocodile is not your skin of choice, Luciano’s ability to access everything from python, anaconda, alligator, calf, kidskin, spring buck, mink, and even kangaroo (one of the softest coat I’ve ever felt) will make finalizing your selection the most difficult decision yet.
For the remainder of 2016, Anthony Luciano himself is scheduled to host trunk shows at Neiman Marcus of Northbrook, IL in mid-October and Neiman Marcus of Scottsdale, AZ in mid-November. To visit Anthony Luciano’s New York studio and showroom, an appointment highly recommended though not necessary. Simply visit Anthony Luciano’s website for their location, hours and contact information.
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