Carolina Santo Domingo combines Columbian artistry with Italian craftmanship in a modern, often minimalist design. She lives and works in Los Angeles and her collection is always surprising, and fun as her unique bags make you look twice and add an artistic style to the person who carries a bag by Carolina Santo Domingo.
By the way, Carolina Santo Domingo is the niece of fashion entrepreneur and founder of Moda Operandi, Lauren Santo Domingo which just shows that the fashion gen is in the family.
IRMA: What means artisanal craftsmanship to you?
CAROLINA SANTO DOMINGO: To me it means something that is hand made, and now I also think that today it has evolved to mean more than this especially considering the times we live in. It is now about preserving and celebrating a form of art which have been lost through the process of industrialization.
IRMA: Your bags are playful with details and proportion; how do you start a design?
CAROLINA SANTO DOMINGO: Thank you, it depends on the type of bag of course. Leather is one process and straw is a completely different process.
I usually start with a proportion then I add details that will make the shape fun and eye catching, usually with an organic inspired detail or element. Textures are also very important to me. I decide on a shape and draw it several times on several pages of paper until I find the exact proportion, I think will look best in 3D. Then I take it to Italy, and I work directly with the Italian artisans and the pattern makers. I bring them the sketches or sometimes I just bring them a shape and we take it from there, building it in 3D together. This is the part of having my own brand that I am most passionate about; I get to spend time in the factories and work directly with talented and knowledgeable people to bring these ideas to life. We usually go through 3 rounds of prototypes before we make a proper sample that we show to buyers/clients.
IRMA: By which other art form are you mostly inspired?
CAROLINA SANTO DOMINGO: Architecture and anything relating to the home. Shapes are from architecture or baskets and then textures as well. Sometimes even contemporary artists or sculptures.
IRMA: How do you design a bag that is noticeable in-between so many new designs each season?
CAROLINA SANTO DOMINGO: I think one thing that sets my designs apart is the quality. I do not use much metal hardware, so the bag could potentially risk looking very basic.
However, we use beautiful leathers from Italy and of course I am very very attentive to small subtle details. The difference is always in the details…
IRMA: The wording IT – Bag is over, but still there are bags each season that everybody wants to carry. What will be your summer prognosis for 2020?
CAROLINA SANTO DOMINGO: I agree the word “IT” bag is over. I think the whole notion of consumerism is transitioning. People are shifting to bags and clothing that are higher in quality and have a unique visual identity. SS20 runway trends showed a lot of minimalism. Elevated staple pieces that people can keep in their wardrobe for several years, not just a seasonal item or a logo bag.
I am very excited for the Ostra bag to launch. Named after an Oyster shell. It is also a fun shoulder bag, the top is adjustable and therefore it looks different on everyone, every adjustment allows for a different shape or way of wearing the bag. This bag is classic, inspired by the 90’s shoulder bag with a modern/organic twist in its proportions. Like all of my bags, it is hand made in Italy.
IRMA: What is the most important tip you have for young designers to start their own collection?
CAROLINA SANTO DOMINGO: Start small and keep your collection focused on a few key shapes or elements . Keep things as concise as possible. Don’t listen to other people about what the “rules” are and always trust your instincts about design etc.
IRMA: How is to your option the best way to wear your bags? Please a styling tip.
CAROLINA SANTO DOMINGO: I think that the Ostra is best with classic pieces.