Interior of Carlos Falchi’s new Artisan Workshop in East Hampton

  Carlos Falchi’s exclusive python lifesaver and surfboard
  A painting by Carlos Falchi

Brazilian-born accessories designer Carlos Falchi has come a long way from bussing tables in Manhattan. Since those humble beginnings, he’s toured with Tina Turner, designed costumes and accessories for Mick Jagger and Elvis Presley and today works with famed costume designers like Patricia Field. His eponymous collection counts actress Sharon Stone and designer Vera Wang as fans.

Now Falchi has just opened a new store, Artisan Workshop, on Main Street in East Hampton, that features luxurious, exotic accessories and beachwear of his own design as well as pieces by Isabella Fiore. (Where else can you find a python surfboard and life preserver?) Dear friends, Falchi and actress Susan Sarandon sit down to talk style, summer and the new shop.

SUSAN SARANDON: You went from bussing tables at Max’s Kansas City in the ’60s to becoming one of the premier luxury accessory designers today. What about your work do you think has made you so successful?
It’s been quite a journey, and I feel really honored and blessed to be able to do what I love. When I first started designing, I think people were attracted to my work because it was unusual and something they weren’t accustomed to seeing. As a general rule, I always break the rules.

SS: You’ve instigated so many key accessory trends that have revolutionized the industry. What were some of your favorites?
CF: The buffalo bag will always be important to me, as it embodies the ideology that I try to channel in every design. I made this deconstructed style at a time when all the popular bag designs were structured and highly constricted, so the established design houses didn’t accept the nature of its design. Its cult-like success gave me the confidence to trust my instinct, even if that meant breaking with convention and going against the grain. I also continue to return to my original collage concept, because it best showcases the diverse beauty of exotic skins. It emphasizes their surprise element. I created our totes when women were entering the workforce in strong numbers in the early 70s. They needed a stylish bag that could hold everything they needed to accompany their power suits. The tote was sexy and also highly functional.

SS: What I love about your designs is that you truly have your own signature style. What sets your collections apart from other designers?
I didn’t start out here in America with the intent of becoming an accessories designer. I just have a genuine love and passion for art and beautiful, exotic skins and leathers; these eventually led me to design. I still hold true to this philosophy today, and every bag made in our company is made by hand and overseen by your truly. Our handbags are inspired by art and an appreciation of the process rather than fast fashion.

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