FOAF: What got you into fashion and how did you first start designing?
Maria Sole: I actually started out studying to be a lawyer, but all I would really think about during that time were the outfits a lawyer could wear in court. So at 23 I dropped out and moved to Paris to go after my new dream. While I was there, I had a couple of friends in art universities, and one day they brought over some Lego bricks. As we were talking, I fiddled around with them and formed the word LOVE with different colored pieces. That’s how I started designing.
FOAF: What inspired you to start your line?
Maria Sole: After that day in Paris when I essentially created by first bag, I wore it out for the evening. The response I got was unbelievable. Everyone was asking me where I bought it and what brand it was from. Hearing those reactions gave me the will and the motivation to start my first line.
FOAF: Why handbags? What are the key elements you look for in a bag?
Maria Sole: A woman’s handbag is what completes her outfit. It’s the key that ties the whole look together. For me, the key element of a handbag is its quality. The touch of a handmade bag with the finest leathers and materials gives it personality just as much as the design that’s on it.
FOAF: You use a wide variety of material in your bags (We LOVE the Legos!). How did you go into finding those and implementing them into the design?
Maria Sole: I think that today the market is thirsty for something different. Using Legos was really diferent and it caught so much attention. So, I made it a point to create a competitive advantage for LPJ based on designing with various unique materials. It’s what makes my designs recognizable by anyone around the world.
There are so many exciting elements I want to work with, but I put a lot of research into choosing materials. I always make sure they present novelty and that I can use them in a way that reflects LPJ’s DNA. Design aside, I always keep in mind whether the material works well on leather, whether it is compatible for my craftsman, and whether it can last over time without losing its quality. Of course, they also must be sourced from Italy!
FOAF: What goes into designing a bag? Where do you feel most creative and what is the process like for you?
Maria Sole: A lot! I start each season with a solid inspiration point, which I take from nearly everything. Lately, I have been very inspired by world cultures. I go on trips and learn about the traditional clothing, colors, accessories, and motifs of a country or region. You learn so much from living as a local, and I come back full of creative ideas. The next step, which I am very keen on, is blending this new inspiration with the underlying pillars of the LPJ brand in terms of color, geometric shapes, etc. Finding this combined balance is not only for designing the bags, but also for the entire creative direction that will follow in the new collection. Once I have my designs in mind, I go through several material samples to see what I feel fits best. Finally, we make a sample. This is my favorite part because it is always exciting to see what I had down on paper in physical form for the first time. When I have the samples, I tweak different details until I get what I originally envisioned.
FOAF: What’s your daily uniform/style?
Maria Sole: I am definitely a fashion forward person, but at the end of the day my favorite piece of clothing is a white t-shirt. Of course it goes without saying that the only thing on my arm is a LPJ bag.
FOAF: What’s your favorite piece from the collection and why?
Maria Sole: That’s a hard one! From the Pre-FW16/17 that just launched on our e-store, I absolutely love the Mini Alex Bunny. It has a beautiful red fox fur pom pom, which has become the brand’s newest identifier. The bag is striped in patent water snake leather, giving it a subtle geometric essence. Also, the Mini Alex shape is truly one of timeless elegance.
FOAF: Who do you feel is the quintessential Les Petits Joueurs customer?
Maria Sole: I think that because my bags have so much personality, they can cater to anyone from a young lady to a mature woman. Generally, she is defiantly a worldly person – someone who is not afraid to venture and is confident and defined with her style. The LPJ woman is someone who can express herself through her accessories.
FOAF: Who are some of your favorite designers right now? What’s inspiring you at the moment?
Maria Sole: I admire all young designers that are trying to break into this competitive industry because I can relate to them. In particular, I admire designers such as Edgardo Osorio from Aquazzurra who started his business just a few years ago and is now one of the most important shoe brands in the world.
FOAF: What’s up next for Les Petits Joueurs?
Maria Sole: A lot of projects to make the business and brand grow. I will still focus on accessories, hopefully going into shoes.
Follow Maria Sole on Instagram for all things Les Petits Joueurs.