Designer Mercedes Machado is always on the hunt for new and fresh concepts to incorporate into her handbag creations, and her new limited edition clutches are unlike anything she’s done before. Machado is known for creating high-end bags in luxe materials like crocodile skin, suede, and leather. For her new independent collection, Machado is straying from the conventional, and mixing acrylic, bronze, silver and semi-precious stones to make fashion-forward statement clutches. More on fashion, accessories and style.
The young designer’s life has always been immersed in the arts and design. In her native Venezuela, Machado grew up surrounded by painters and artists that would visit her parents who were art collectors. Machado went on to work as an interior and costume designer for the Caracas National Opera. In 2002, she began designing handbags, first under the label Jacaranda Handcrafted Bags. Later she would work in collaboration with her partner and childhood friend Isabelle Delfino (a Venezuelan photographer) with whom she launched–in 2008– the label Ismach Seven. Machado’s success lies in her talent for juxtaposition. Merging unexpected fabrics and color combinations, the designer creates bags that are playful and modern.
Machado’s passion for working with a vast array of materials is in her blood line: her mother’s artistic endeavors ventured into the worlds of enamel, ceramics, sculpture, embroidery, and silver. In this new phase of of her life, the designer has embraced acrylic. For Machado, using acrylic as the base material introduced a new facet to her designs. “I’m always on the search for new concepts, so I decided to do some research on the acrylic material. I fell in love with the acrylic because it has a very modern, clean feel,” she says.
After choosing acrylic as the base of her clutches, Machado began working with an expert colorist. After a month, she decided on two colors: black and Ferrari red, two elegant hues that would go with anything in a woman’s wardrobe. Creating the bags also involves engineers who are familiar with the material and mold the acrylic sheets into clutch shapes by applying heat.
Machado looked to add contrast and whimsy to the rectangular shaped clutches with the addition of two motifs she designed. One version of the clutches is adorned with naif figures in semi-precious stones while an edgier version dons a skull wearing the crown of Cuzqueña virgins, stemming as inspiration from Machado’s last trip to Peru. For the construction of the figures, Machado is working with esteemed Venezuelan jeweler María Peña, who uses materials such as coral, amethyst, bronze, and silver to add dimension and luxury to the purses. The result is a cultivation of Machado’s artistic roots, an ease with juxtaposition and her desire to continue experimenting with the unexpected.
The clutch bags will be sold in very limited quantities, mainly because the creation process involves about eight people and a month and a half of work to complete one of these imaginative pieces.
Now that Machado has ventured into the world of unconventionality, one can only ponder what the designer will do next. When asked what other worlds she’ll explore in her quest for innovative design, Machado says,” There is such a process involved with working with each different material, I just never know what I’ll be inspired by or which material I’ll want to work with next.” The designer concludes, “I never know what I’ll do in the future.” ■