Travel Loot

A Holiday in a Handbag

by Andria Mitsakos

Shuttling across the globe with my family from a very young age, I developed a wanderlust that defines my life today. Stepping off a plane into lush, humid air heavy with exotic scents in Antigua when I was seven years old. Strolling through a vibrant market overflowing with textiles while holding my Mom's hand through the Plaka in Greece, my yearning grew for far away cultures and evocative experiences punctuated by intriguing design.

Last year, through a domino effect of contacts (which is how my life always seems to tick along), I decided to embrace my love for design and embark on a passion project. Sketchbook in hand, I set up a satellite office for my luxury travel PR agency in Milan and moved to Italy for the summer to discover my own dolce vita. I spent days sifting through vintage shops in Milan, watching sexy Roman women and many a sultry Napoletana. And thus Dea Rosa, my handbag line, was born.

The bag inspired by Borgo di Carpiano in Umbria.
Quisisana clutch, named for the famed Capri hotel.
The Serenissima on location in its namesake, Venice.

Inspired by these women — as well as the allure and magnetism of Italian screen sirens like Loren, Lollobrigida, and Cardinale — I created a collection that I hoped would evoke Italian glamour and style wherever I happened to be — at a lazy aperitivo in Capri or a serious lunch in New York. Can a clutch embody freedom? I think it can.

I spent a month shooting the look book throughout Italy with my photographer, Peter Wesley Brown, at the wheel of our Fiat 500. He coined our sojourn "Mr. Todd's Wild Ride."

Our stops were frequent — and very inspiring. The quaint, seven-room Borgo di Carpiano in Umbria, which is owned by some of my best friends, gave my line's signature satchel its name. A week in Capri and reoccurring evening apero at Hotel Quisisana resulted in a clutch. My friend’s landmark hotel in Sorrento, Grand Hotel Cocumella, led to a beach tote. A whiz through Venice, and I had Serenissima (the old name for Venice) and Salviati (the first family to bring Murano glass to the masses). We shot Santa Maria on the roof of Milan's dramatic Duomo and Fontelina on Capri's famed craggy cliff beach. The bags had quite a holiday.

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