Monday, July 28, 2008

A trip to Buenos Aires!

ATENTI designer Andrea Sbardellati writes:

Hi everyone, and sorry – I wrote this a while ago but we didn’t post it right away. So here is a little bit about the trip I took to source new materials for the bags, have coffee in sidewalk cafes, visit friends and relatives and listen to tango music:

THE NEWS! THE NEWS! THE NEWS! May, 2008 ---- I just got back from a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina! Highly recommended. Yes, I may live, work and vote in California, but part of my heart belongs to the country of my birth and where I lived almost half my life. I went there with one of my daughters, Nina. You would know her if you saw her - she is the girl on the cover of our last three catalogues. The first part of the trip was seeing family - all hugs and kisses. This was especially intense for Nina since her last and only previous visit was at the age of three.

Then we got settled in with my sister Lolita who lives in Buenos Aires’s “Soho” district; so does movie director Francis Ford Coppola for extended visits. (We have two things in common: my maiden name is Coppola (no relation, darn!) and we seem to love the same city.) A lot of the old houses in the neighborhood are being remodeled into stores, restaurants and art galleries. The streets are cobblestone, and most houses have incredible, huge, wooden doors with these great glass and wrought iron canopies over them.

There is a lot of talent in this city. The architects are doing fabulous stores inside these old houses and the artists fill them with amazing clothing, jewelry, gifts and art. My friend Mariana brought me to a yarn store that only carries products done by a native (south) American tribe from the Mendoza district of Argentina near Chile. I bought all these incredible colors of woolen yarn that I intend to add to my handbags until it is all gone and I need to go back for more. They also had these great buttons and pins in wood done by the same tribe. It is all so primitive, coarsely spun, dyed with natural pigments.

Mariana has been my friend since elementary school. Her family owns St. Albans, the boys English school in my home town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Mariana and I went to Barker, the all girls English school in the same small town. And now Mariana is the principal of St Albans as well as being a mother of six. Here’s a picture of my super-friend wearing the sweater she had just finished knitting.

She also went with me to buy some beads for the dingles I put on the hobo bags. I get wonderful stuff at home in L.A., but isn’t it great to think that a bead or two on each bag is from Buenos Aires. I later dropped in on a mill I know of where again (!) I found some great fabrics with a native feeling that the mill does not market in the U.S. Of course I bought sample yardage of quite a few, and it looks like I’ll have them by next week! Then we’ll see how I can work them into a new bag.

A belt from the Mendoza district and some beads from Buenos Aires:

Next time I’ll preview some of the new bags!