On The Horizon: Power Purses
East meets West in this special line of handmade handbags by Anthony Luciano for Back At The Ranch.
When Santa Fe cowboy boot queen Wendy Lane Henry met New York handbag maker Anthony Luciano, something magical was bound to happen. It was an encounter that matched the best of the boot with the power of the purse. Now their serendipitous meeting has blossomed into an inspired new line of handmade handbags that meld Eastern sophistication with Western sensibility.
“I was in Florida visiting family and was shopping in the Bal Harbour Neiman’s in the designer bags, and Anthony was there doing a trunk show,” Henry says. “His work was amazing!” The two bonded over a deep appreciation for the finer things in leather — or, as Luciano recounts it, “Wendy lost her mind and was all over my purses!” — and a boots-and-bags collaboration was born.
The first thing Henry did was invite the purse prodigy to the City Different. “He’d never been! I told him, ‘You must come to Santa Fe for Indian Market.’ It wasn’t even on his radar. He said he’d come for two days; he stayed for 10. He loved it.” And Back at the Ranch customers who hit Luciano’s trunk show loved his bags. “We had an unbelievable response,” Henry says. “People went crazy.”
Pick up one of his bags, and it’s easy to see why. Like Henry’s boots, Luciano’s bags are entirely handmade by expert artisans (including Luciano, who learned fine embroidery from his Neapolitan grandmother and other hand skills from his carpenter father and seamstress mother, and later trained at the esteemed Fashion Institute of Technology in New York). Attention to detail? Stunning — from the skins (calf, lamb, python, ostrich, crocodile, lizard) and equestrian evocations (like whipstitching and braiding) to the taffeta and faille linings and the signature penny stitched in every bag for luck and prosperity.
And, like the bespoke boot business of Back at the Ranch, if you have something specific in mind, the sky’s the limit. You can choose from among the antique closures Luciano collects (he favors Victorian and ’50s vintage) and build a bag around those, or you can design something from the ground up.
“He’s a true artist,” Henry says. Indeed: Seven of his handbags were featured in Anna Johnson’s book Handbags: The Power of the Purse. And the bag he designed to emulate a Fabergé egg and donated to Friends of the Hermitage was later immortalized on calendars and refrigerator magnets.
As his business grows, Luciano remains committed to his family tradition of one-of-a-kind workmanship and is personally involved in the making of every bag. “He can sit there and hand-make the bags from scratch,” Henry says. “It’s fun to watch him sit and sew.”
You can do just that during this year’s Indian Market, when Anthony Luciano and his handbags will be guest stars at Wendy Lane Henry’s Back at the Ranch.