By JOHN LEGASPI
Think of a toned-down Effie Trinket from the novel series turned movie hit The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and jetsetter Marie de la Roche might easily come to mind. De la Roche came to Manila wearing lilac hair and a sunny personality. The handy bags that she makes are just like her—they make a statement.
“I love bags, they have so much value,” she said. “They make a woman feel amazing no matter what they are wearing, or if they’re having a bad day. When you have a great bag, you feel good, and you feel ready for life.”
She has been in love with fashion for as long as she could remember. “I’ve been into fashion since I was growing up,” Marie told Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “I remember back home in Colombia when I was young, my friends and I would play at my house. We were all about Barbie dolls and Miss Universe then, so we created these miniature dresses for our dolls and did a little pageant. Of course, I always won because it was my house [laughs].”
What sparked her lifelong passion for design was a little project, initiated by her and some classmates, to create messenger bags for male schoolmates. Since then, regular visits to bag and leather factories and production spaces pushed De la Roche to pursue a career in fashion after finishing her degree in industrial design.
Marie began her life journey in fashion with her namesake brand Marie de la Roche (MDLR), inspired by an affinity toward luxury bag construction with fine European craftsmanship.
I have huge respect for what it takes to earn money. I want to present my clients with something timeless and durable. It would be a dream come true for me if they pass on their MDLR bags to their daughters, granddaughters, and nieces.
A global nomad since birth, Marie has lived in 11 countries all over the world, and often draws inspiration from the Euro-Mediterranean region where her studio is based. “I want our bags to appeal to many kinds of women,” she said. “That’s why we design them in many different colors, and why we produce designs that will appeal to a range of women, from the 65-year-old eccentric to an early 20s vanilla type. I want to let every woman know that there’s a piece that will suit her taste in MDLR.”
MDLR respects sustainability and eco-practices while envisioning strong pieces for all lovers of life. To keep that creed, she has collaborated with the industry’s best, sourcing premium leathers from Italy and manufacturing the bags in Portugal.
“I want to make sure people get their money’s worth,” she said. “I have huge respect for what it takes to earn money. I want to present my clients with something timeless and durable. It would be a dream come true for me if they pass on their MDLR bags to their daughters, granddaughters, and nieces. I’ve always been a firm believer that excellent quality is worth it. My father is a dandy, albeit a slightly kooky one. He’s truly driven by uniqueness and quality, which are values that, thanks to our father-daughter shopping adventures while I was growing up, resonate with me until today.”
MDLR bags today have been carried by Hollywood babe Victoria Justice and Filipina style icon Liz Uy. Fashion glossies such as Vogue, Elle Middle East, and Grazia Arabia have all featured the brand.
An everyday brand that’s Colombian at heart, MDLR is set to give every Filipina a dash of feisty Latina style through its handbags. “I just want to celebrate life with our bags,” she said. “I want women to feel fantastic. I want to gift them with pieces that have become instrumental in telling our story as we grow, and as they grow.”
MDLR bags are available at Lanai at the Alley, Karrivin Plaza in Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.
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