The Wondrous World of WILLaCY — Elegant Minaudieres With An Urban Edge
There’s something so exciting about discovering a brand you’d never heard of before — it’s a bit like finding out what’s inside the sealed briefcase on Deal or No Deal. In the case of up-and-coming handbag brand WILLaCY, the surprise was pretty exhilarating.
Launched by Kamilah Willacy, WILLaCY focuses on luxury handbags with an architectural spin — the result of Willacy’s own studies in architecture and, later, in handbag design at the Polimoda Studi di Milano, as well as her experiences in interior design upon her return from Milan to New York City. The brand’s minaudieres feature classic shapes and clean, sleek, minimalist lines, but unconventional materials or unexpected color combinations make each design feel modern and chic.
Several minaudieres, for instance, feature wooden panels like oak or teak, sanded and polished beautifully then framed with gunmetal or gold-toned metal trimming and topped off with jewel-like top clasps, themselves adorned with jagged, raw-looking rocks, faceted onyx and jade stones, or cube-shaped tiger’s eye nuggets.The WILLaCY Scando clutch ($430 at WILLaCYny.com), shown fourth above, features a square shape and incorporates wooden panels painted a lovely shade of red, with gradations similar to the streaks you’d find in natural wood, but accentuated even further to create a sense of light and shadow. The red wood is then framed with brass-toned metal trim and given a luxurious Bohemian feel via a brass closure topped with a rugged, scraggly, pebble-like stone that looks like it’s in its natural state.
For a more peculiar twist on the wooden motif, there’s the Grass clutch ($380 at WILLaCYny.com), shown fifth above, a hand-painted number featuring blades of grass that seem to blow and dance in the wind. The wooden backdrop, then, was painted a white color in order to transform it into a blank canvas on which to carefully paint the grassy expanse, employing various shades of green to accentuate the details of each blade of grass. The effect is so stunning that it requires close inspection to realize that the clutch is made of wood and not canvas. To complement the green color scheme of the nature-inspired design, Willacy chose a jade-colored stone to adorn the gold-toned top closure, faceting the stone’s edges to create a greater sense of texture and play with notions of jewelry and luminosity.
Aside from wood, Willacy often works with marble, creating such stunning designs as the Omani clutch ($440 at WILLaCYny.com), shown at top with a superimposed red rose print, second from top in an emerald green hue, and sixth above in a black shade. All of the WILLaCY Omani clutches feature the same rectangular silhouette, the same mirrored gold-toned edges, and the same rectangular top clasp, but each has a distinct personality thanks to its designated color. The use of marble, in and of itself, is noteworthy since it gives each piece a sculptural feel, a museum-worthy classicality and elegance. The veins and swirls of the marble intensify this feel, adding a striking visual component. In the case of the red rose clutch, meanwhile, the use of marble gives the floral print a demure polish.
Last but not least, the WILLaCY Spring 2014 collection of minaudieres includes some rather refined stingray clutches, each with an elongated envelope shape and front and back panels that curve ever so slightly, as well as top closured with round, slightly domed stones. Retailing for $380 each, these stingray clutches come in vibrant shades like lime green, jade green (pictured last above), and teal blue (shown third above), as well as richer, more neutral hues like earthy maroon, and slate gray.
With a growing following in Dubai, London, New York, Milan, Los Angeles, Miami, and Nigeria, WILLaCY could very well become the next “it” brand — especially if the designs retain their uniqueness and sophistication.