We love a good behind-the-scenes story, especially when it’s unexpected. When we started talking to the Lebanese-born, New York-based emerging accessories designer Nada Sawaya about her intricately inlaid, Art Deco-looking minaudieres, we weren’t prepared for her explanation for their rectangular shapes and right angles. “I have an appreciation for the magic of numbers and the sacredness of geometry,” she said. “It’s my belief that people's eyes are drawn to an intriguing geometric design because of their desire to know if there is something magical beyond the constraints of our physical universe as we know it. So I decided to create a collection based on geometry.” Well, math has never been our strong point, but we know a good bag when we see one.
Each bag is painstakingly assembled by Filipino artisans, and because every one is made by hand, no two are exactly alike. Sawaya names each one for an Italian city she knows and loves. We’re offering the Portofino (photo 1), a Gehry-esque oval of stainless steel; the San Marco (photo 2), a stainless steel box that’s crossed with shell and resin zig-zags; and the Positano (photo 3), a stainless steel, brass, wood and shell confection that looks like a luxurious take on a crossword puzzle. Each is lined with beige suede and is big enough to hold an iPhone or Blackberry (we checked). Sawaya’s thought of every detail, right down to the sculptural clasps, which were inspired by perfume bottles, and the nice feel the bags have when you pick one up. These rare clutches, available online only at AHAlife, are typically made-to-order, but we have few in stock already, so you can snap them up right away. We can't think of a more beautiful companion to holiday parties and for ringing in the new year. As Sawaya says of the ideal evening bag, “It must fit in the hand comfortably and when you lay it on the table it must attract the eye of your neighbor.” In this case, done and done.