The Wylde Interview: Charlotte Aluna
New luxury British brand Charlotte Aluna creates beautiful, handcrafted, bespoke bags made in London. We spoke to founder, Charlotte Adsett, a fashion editor with over 15 years industry experience, who drew upon her own love of mid-century vintage to create her distinctive label..
INTERVIEW BY KATE SINCLAIR
Charlotte has designed a ‘forever’ bag, to be treasured for many, many years. Since it’s launch, the Lottie box bag has been a hit with the A-list; the brand has made bespoke bags for Olivia Palermo, Rita Ora, Paloma Faith and Taylor Swift.
Your inspiration for the brand comes from 1950s and 1960s handbags and travel cases. What is it about this period and style that influences you? My grandmother was a theatre starlet in the Westend during the 1940’s to the early 1960’s. I grew up with evocative tales of a glamorous London that was filled with dressing up in beautiful clothes to go to parties at iconic nightclubs such as Ronnie Scott’s and Annabel’s. As a little girl we watched black and white films from that era together. As well as the classic Hollywood films, I adored the British films that were set in a quintessential London from days gone by. At the age of 12 I started buying vintage clothes from charity shops and my love and appreciation of mid-century vintage clothing and accessories grew from there. At fashion college I became fascinated with the 'Swinging Sixties’ and all of the players who made up the fashion scene.
Who are your favourite style icons from the 1950’s and 1960’s? After my grandmother, the British It-girls who shaped the 1960’s London movement were a major inspiration for the brand. My favourite go-to girls are Jane Birkin, Marianne Faithfull, Patti Boyd, Charlotte Rampling, Grace Coddington, Twiggy, Mary Quant and Jean Shrimpton. Those girls and their style during that decade still have so much influence in fashion.
How have you adapted classic handbag design in order to appeal to a contemporary audience? I’m not a fan of logos and names that are stamped onto bags, so the Lottie bag doesn’t feature any branding whatsoever on the exterior. I wanted the bag to have a distinctive look through its clean lines and signature rounded edges. The glossy gold hardware and the detachable long shoulder strap makes the bag feel very modern.
Similar to those of the 1950s and 1960s, your signature ‘Lottie' bags include special features such as a mirror and special compartments for various handbag essentials. How important is functionality in your designs? I generally go straight out after work to dinner or an event, so always carry my make-up and products as well as all my tech and work notebooks so I wanted to create a bag that could securely fit all of my essentials and would work from day-to-night. The mirror which is built into the interior means you can do your make-up on the go whilst in the back of a cab.
How important in being ‘Made in the UK'? As a fashion editor, I particularly like to champion brands that are made in the UK as a huge amount of ‘British' labels trade off their British heritage, but actually manufacture abroad. Sadly, the British handbag industry which was booming in London’s East End during the 1950’s and 1960’s has dwindled to almost nothing as the large majority of major fashion houses manufacture in China and Europe. I wanted to create a British product, so having our bespoke bags made in London was very important to me. I'm proud to be part of a new wave who are bringing manufacture back to Britain.
How important is London to your brand aesthetic and identity? London is hugely important to the brand identity as the city and the fashion movement in the 1960’s was the major inspiration for the brand. I’m very patriotic and unique London cultural icons such as the red Routemaster double decker bus, the telephone box, the Royal Mail postbox and black taxi’s are key references.
What does luxury mean to you? The word ‘luxury’ is so overused today and is applied to absolutely anything. Even within the luxury handbag industry, a large proportion of bags are made in a factory overseas that churns out hundreds of bags a day. For me, true luxury means a handcrafted product made by artisans from the highest quality materials. I wanted to create a ‘forever’ bag that would not date, and featured exceptional workmanship.
What informed your decision to offer a bespoke personalisation service alongside your range? Our bespoke Lottie bags are handmade in an artisan studio in London which means that I can offer a bespoke service where customers can create an original bag by changing the colour components of each part of the bag including the interior.
Describe your dream 'Charlotte Aluna' woman… The Lottie box bag is a timeless design that I hope appeals to fashion forward women of all ages from a teenage girl through to a women in her 70’s. The bags are currently available in over 25 calf leather patent colours from classic core colours to bolder shades with the idea that everyone can find their favourite colour.