PB: For starters, we just want to know how you got into the industry. We read online that when you came to New York, you were at Max’s Kansas City. We’d love to hear a bit about that.

Carlos Falchi: It was a wild and fun place – and a lot of work. But, I was really lucky. When I first came to NY I worked in restaurants, I was a young immigrant. I went to Florida, actually Fort Lauderdale. I was in Brazil and started working when I was 13, and when I turned 18, I wanted to take a vacation. I had a cousin who just came back from Ft. Lauderdale and said “it is wonderful, you have to go there”. So, I went to visit my cousin in Florida, I didn’t speak a word of English. My cousin had to write down a few lines as to how to get around. I got there in 1965, arrived at the hotel, and worked there for a while. When they closed the hotel, I moved to upstate NY.

Finally, I got to NYC and I decided to work at Max’s as a bar boy – I didn’t know what that meant, but sure, I’d done it before, I could be a bar boy. So I literally worked my way up through Max’s. I made my own clothes, made friends, it was the place to be. When I got the graveyard shift, I was able to meet all sorts of people. People started to ask me where I got my clothes and I said that I made them, so people started to ask me to make them clothes. I started to meet artists, I met Miles Davis and I made a pair of pants for him – he loved them and I got to meet him. Miles was going to open at Carnegie Hall and I got to dress him for that event. I worked with him for 2.5 years. Through Miles I met Tina Turner and all different artists. I became friends with all of them – even Andy Warhol and later he did 2 videos for me. So that’s how it all started – right there at Max. I was told I needed to go to Bendel’s on 57th st. I brought in my clothes and some bags with me – how I carried my clothes. They looked at everything and loved everything. Then they asked about the tote I was carrying – it was all patchwork from the clothes I made. They asked me to come back and bring my bags. At this point, I didn’t know bags at all, but I just put things together – unlined, free formed and hand stitched. They went crazy and they loved it! So, Bendel’s was my first store – I had no concept of business. In 1973, they opened a boutique for me.

PB: So, you weren’t in handbags before, it was something you came on to?

CF: Yes, it was an accident.

PB: With clothing, were you always making clothing?

CF: I was always making my own stuff from a very young age. My mom did wedding dresses. So we grew up next to wedding dresses and next to fabrics. But, I was in the military so it was very different for me. I never studied design or went to fashion school.

PB: So, it was really all something you came across?

CF: I was always into color. The reason my leathers became quickly known, because when I first started everything was dark, beiges and browns in the summer. But, I would take chlorox, soak the leathers in my bathtub so it would take out some of the color and then I would add ending die. It’s something I still do.

        

Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Amy

    This is the best interview yet!!! Thank you so much

  • Evster

    Thanks for doing this great interview! and do you happen to know how much the painted python bag on page 3 costs?? And where I can lay my hands on one? Even my boyfriend who was next to me reading a mag said.. “whoa.. WOW thats great.”

  • Evster, the hand-painted bag you mentioned costs $1570 (all thumbnails are clickable for more info!). Inquire here for availability:

    http://www.carlosfalchionline.com/contactus

  • gaga4bags

    I met Falchi at a personal appearance at Neiman’s in the DC area. He was a very lovely person and the bags are beautiful. For the price though, I would have expected a suede lining. The quality of the Jimmy Choo exotics is comparable and better constructed imo for the same price.

  • Thais

    It’s good to see a talent from my country doing so many beatiful things. It’s a pity he doesn’t come to Brazil as much anymore.

  • jane, while I appreciate your input, I will tend to rather side with the word of a person I actually met, instead of a comment posted anonymously.

  • Jane –

    I will follow up and look into it. I don’t see why anyone would lie… I really do not think he would, but I will ask. Where did you get your info from?

  • Beth

    Thank you for publishing this lovely interview! Mr. Falchi did a line that he marketed on QVC about 10 years ago and I used to love watching him make his personal appearances. He was so creative and entertaining and gracious. In those years there may not have been so much pressure from the tv shopping channels for their high-end designers to cut cost corners for the mass market. I splurged and purchased an amazing all shearling Carlos Falchi bag from QVC. It was a limited edition — pure, undyed, untreated shearling. Imagine a huge pouch with the shearling fur on the inside and the “raw” suede on the outside. Fabulous! Alas, it was an enormous bag and I ended up selling it just a few years ago. Thanks for the memories….!

  • Eva

    great interview! – love his way of using everything and let nothing go to waste

  • armbasket

    I had the opportunity to meet Carlos in person and he is everything as you have described him – a first class professional and a wonderful person. His handbag products are to die for, and he manages to cover various price ranges, from microfiber to exotics.

  • ronnie

    i love the interview. got to know the designer that i love so much. the bags are awesome, and i would love to win one, since money is so tight, and i could use is desperately!!!!! please, pleae, please………

  • Merve

    It seems he was really put on earth to do what he does. You can understand it from the passion with which he speaks and the amount he gets involved. I would prefer to give money to buy one of his bags than one from a massive house with a huge production line.

  • Veronika Becker

    Hi! I recently purchased my first Carlos Falchi bag from Neiman Marcus. It is the crushed lamb poof bag and it is absolutely to die for. Such a gorgeous piece of art. About 4 or 5 years ago, I passed on a motorcycle bag that I saw on the Neiman’s catalog. That bag has haunted me for years. Since becoming a member of the purse forum, I have collected Louis Vuitton extensively. However, after finally taken the plunge to the Carlos Falchi crushed lamb, I have decided to branch out and discover other fabulous designers. Thank you purse forum Meg and Vlad for publishing this interview! Veronika

  • janeh

    What a fascinating man and interesting interview……thank you!

  • izabella

    Great interview!The bags are very beautiful!!!! thank you Vlad and Meg!!!

  • Brenda Giguere

    I enjoyed this interview. Among other things, it reminded me why I love the art of the handbag… and stories of success, too!

  • Staley09

    A truly inspiring story! I love his handbags!

  • Leslie

    He is an artist, whose canvas is his handbags

  • eorchid

    Great interview; thanks to Megs and Vlad for sharing this! I really admire that Carlos Falchi does not stray from his humble beginnings of using scraps to make art/handbags. What a true artist and a true ‘green’ capitalist!

  • Lmo

    I just wanted to share some first hand info about Carlos. I have worked for him for a few years and he is a wonderful man. An incredible designer- with an amazing eye and full of creativity! The office is a family environment- and always full of fun! He really wants everyone to enjoy their job, treats them great, has a wonderful family– and it makes you want to work even harder! Not to mention the bags are beautiful- and made right here in our office! It is so cool- and I think everyone should have a CF bag- it is $$ well spent and you will have it for the rest of your life! I hope everyone gets to meet him someday! :)

  • jorge mourao

    Salve Carlos!
    Since those difficult days in the seventies there was no doubt about your talent and sucess.
    After years rediscovering Brasil in Porto Seguro, I´m back in Rio organizing the ARCHIVOS IMPOSSIBLES for a retrospective expo. Some photos of that atelier in Madison Ave. will be on. Would like to re-contact you personally. please send e-mail/tel. Abração

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