Throughout the Miss Universe pageant and beyond, Catriona Gray has consistently kept her fashion choices solely to Filipino brands and designers. Our very own Miss Philippines is often photographed wearing local from head-to-toe. In particular, one standout aspect of Catriona's outfits has been her choice of hand bags. From a gorgeous rattan-made woven bag to a seashell style clutch, these designs are almost impossible to miss—and the best part? They're from a proudly Pinoy local brand named Calli.
Boasting of intricate artistry and elegant designs, Calli's bags are purely sculpted by local craftsmen and artisans. "We have the resources and highly skilled manpower waiting to be utilized. We started creating Calli bags by sourcing materials locally and commissioned the highly skilled wood carvers and painters of Laguna to execute our designs," Tessa Nepomuceno, Calli's founder, tells Preview. "It was launched in 2013 just in time for the Manila Fame trade show. It won the Katha award for Best in Fashion Design in that event."
International acclaim followed suit shortly after, and Calli won the Best in Product Design in the Hong Kong Fashion Access, further proving its world class quality. Not to mention with a patron like the 2018 Miss Universe, it's safe to say Calli has all the makings of representing genuine Pinoy talent in the global market.
Find out more about Calli below as Tessa talks to us about the brand's name, and how and where you can cop Catriona's signature bags, along with one especially designed by the beauty queen herself.
Can you tell us about Calli bags? What’s the story behind the brand’s name?
"'Calli' (from Greek word kallos) means beautiful. It is used in words like 'calligraphy,' which means artistic, stylized, and elegant handwriting. So Calli bags actually mean 'artistic, stylized, and elegant handbags'. We carry a broad collection of wooden handbags and clutches that are beautifully sculpted by our highly skilled craftsmen. Finishing touches of tastefully executed artworks are done by our expert artisans. The finished product is proof of our dedication to create unique art pieces that will surely be loved by our clients."
What’s the history behind the brand?
"It all started from my observation that, for so long, we still don’t have a designer brand that has made a niche in the world market. We have the resources and highly skilled manpower waiting to be utilized. What started creating Calli bags by sourcing materials locally and commissioned the highly skilled wood carvers and painters of Laguna to execute our designs. It was launched in 2013 just in time for the Manila Fame trade show. It won the Katha award for 'Best in Fashion Design' in that event. We got our first International recognition the the same year at the Hong Kong Fashion Access for 'Best in Product Design'. Since then we are slowly but surely getting a good share in the world market."
Is there a signature design or key element evident throughout your handbags?
"Functional and conversational art pieces best describe our designs."
Can you take us through the creative process of designing and creating your bags?
"I normally look at my mood boards. Like most of our designs, we start at the drawing board. My creations can influenced by a wide range of objects, creatures, and even memorable events. Once we decide on a specific design, we create prototypes that will be the objects of opinions (positive or negative) from friends and family. This will roughly be our basis whether it may be accepted in the market or not. Since all our creations are handmade, we can proceed in creating different styles and model variations without investing on costly production moulds. It’s really amazing how our craftsmen can transform a piece of wood into a work of art."
How did you come across working with Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray?
"I highly admire Catriona for her patriotism in showcasing Filipino designs and brands to the world. It was stylist Ton Lao who is a part of her team that introduced my creations to her. She first used my Rosa clutch during ABS-CBN Ball last September 2018."
Have you designed any bags especially for her?
"Yes, in fact, she designed the Catriona Clutch. She used it together with our other styles in official functions that she attended during Miss Universe pageant in Thailand. We are scheduled to launch the Catriona clutch this February and part of the sales will go to her charity foundation."
What can we expect from your brand in the future?
"We are currently in the process of searching for more indigenious materials to be used in our designs. Our country has so many world class materials waiting to be discovered."