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Designer and art advisor Maria Brito partnered with Israeli artist Nir Hod on a 10-piece handbag collection for spring, which debuted during New York Fashion Week last month at Soho House.
In the tradition of Brito’s previous collaborations—with artists like Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Carlos Rolón/Dzine, Kenny Scharf, Erik Parker, Katherine Bernhardt, Natalie Frank, Trudy Benson—each piece was inspired and driven by the artist’s overall vision and style.
This time around, Brito curated the images and design details by looking back through more than 15 years of Hod’s archives, showcases, paintings and works ranging from early, rich figurative compositions to more recent abstract pieces.
“We accomplished what I like to call a retrospective of his work that goes back to the time he was working with pure figuration—flowers, butterflies—to his move to abstraction reflecting darker glamour. Sometimes certain things were too special to be turned into a handbag,” Brito noted. “But when that happened, I asked if he had other pieces that explored the same vibe of beauty and darkness, and usually he did.”
Hod felt good about the collaboration from the very beginning, “I like to explore new fields in art, fashion, and design; and experiment with the translation of thinking,” he told us. “I find it very interesting that some of the best women’s handbags are designed by men. This makes the concept very romantic,” he said.
Handmade in New York, the bags combine leatherwork with advanced printing technology, where the reproduction of colors and textures is as faithful as possible to the original canvases from which they were derived. The fabrics used include Italian lambskin, suede lining, and calfskin in solid, metallic, and lush printed colors.
“He’s the perfect artist to mix with leather because he’s so rock ‘n’ roll, a rebel and a true expert of dark glam. In the past, I’d worked with suede, acrylic, and other materials but this is the first time we’re working with leather,” Brito said.
Hod, known for his hyper-realist paintings, works with themes of sexual confusion, ambivalent identity, decadence, and simulated innocence. These motifs animated his earlier production of poetry, music, sculpture, and photographs and imbue “Genius” (2008-2011), his famous series of paintings that mix old master portraiture with lowbrow seriousness, deliberately blurring the visual signals associated with childhood and adulthood, innocence and experience, high art and kitsch.