Was it Kat Razon’s Cowrie Sun hoops that caught our attention? Or perhaps the sight of Macky Fäh with her Playa bag got us curious? All we knew was we had to find out more about Flora Magica, a local brand that took the lovely curios of the seaside—shells, straw, mother-of-pearl—and turned them into wearable accoutrements by setting them with semi-precious stones in precious metals. They make a fine companion to all the linen looks and sundresses Filipinas favor, but they work just as well to add whimsy to your off-duty jeans and tee.
We asked the woman behind the brand, designer Liane Aboitiz Peña, who studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California, to tell us more about Flora Magica. You may find her aesthetic instantly tugging at those bohemian heartstrings.
What is the concept behind Flora Magica?
The concept behind the brand is to create versatile, textural, and fanciful jewelry that reflects the sunny and magical vibe of the Philippines. Nature, travel, and craftsmanship have an overwhelming presence in what I do as a designer and symbolizes the core of Flora Magica.
Where did the name come from?
Since my brand has heavy influences in nature and color, I wanted a name that reflects the whimsical and natural aesthetic of my designs. Flora means "flower" and Magica, “magic” in Latin.
Who designs your bags and accessories?
I work independently, from conceiving a collection to packing and shipping items. I enjoy handling the marketing aspect myself since I majored in graphic design in college, which has helped me on the creative end of the business.
Is there a signature design or key element evident through your designs?
A recurring theme in my designs is flora and fauna. I like to create pieces that pair familiar motifs with unexpected elements. I use materials found in the natural world and elevate them by pairing them with more elegant metals like gold.
Please describe your overall aesthetic.
My brand has a playful and bohemian vibe that draws on nature. You’ll find statement pieces in gold with touches of brightly colored stones and shells.
What kind of materials do you use in producing your items?
Gold is the metal that I choose to work with most often because it complements well with organic materials. Most of my designs are made using gold-dipped metals paired with semi-precious stones and natural materials like mother of pearl.
What made you decide to use these materials?
My accessories use organic materials like abaca and seashells that reflect the array of locally available materials found in the Philippines. I love using the natural textures of these elements juxtaposed with unexpected materials to create pieces that are fun and unique.
How did you start your business and who are its founders?
I’d always wanted to go into jewelry, but I didn’t want to pursue it unless it was something different. Accessorizing is such a fun, personal process and designing came very naturally to me. I wanted to be able to express my inner creativity and found that channel through creating jewelry.
A couple of years ago I visited an accessories factory in Cebu and remembered being so in awe of all the natural materials available locally. It took me an entire year to come up with a theme and launch a collection.
Could you tell us something about yourselves?
I consider myself as more laid-back yet with an eclectic sense of style. Accessories are one of the most striking ways to express yourself. I hope that my pieces will reflect my love of adornment. I believe that you don’t have to wait until summer to wear tropical-inspired accessories.
Who do you have in mind when you create your pieces?
She is someone who is very confident yet easy-going, who is not afraid to wear statement pieces and mix and match.
Could you describe the lifestyle that fits your designs?
I love the idea of pairing a casual outfit with bold jewelry. My accessories evoke a sense of playfulness and can easily be incorporated into your everyday attire to bring that sense of whimsy with you on your day to day life. My pieces are also meant to be taken with you on your travels as they have a wanderlust-inspired aesthetic.
What sets you apart from other stores?
My brand is not traditional and celebrates the fun in life while staying true to its DNA of incorporating natural materials with recognizable motifs.
What should we expect from Flora Magica in the future?
In the future, I hope to branch out into designing more accessories like clothing and bags to complement the jewelry pieces I create.