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Le Carlos Bag


There’s something friendly about the shape, which one could easily imagine serving as a conversation starter between two strangers in the street or elsewhere. The Carlos bag is a magic lamp, an object of erotic projections that stimulates the touch and the imagination. Its unctuous, glossy shape resembles a gigantic, generously proportioned clamshell. The bag is the result of a collaboration between the artist Carlos Peñafiel and Lemaire.

Carlos Peñafiel is a self-taught artist born in Chile in 1949, who currently resides in France. He collaborated with Pierre Cardin in 1986 to create leather shoes inspired by the surrealist painting Le Modèle Rougeby René Magritte. His leather bags and masks were exhibited at the Museum of Eroticism in Paris in 2010.

The original resin mold created by Carlos Peñafiel.

Lemaire has collaborated with Peñafiel since Fall-Winter 2014, when his creations were featured in a runway show at France’s national library on Quai François Mauriac in Paris. He modeled his bag for the brand at the Fall-Winter 2020 show at the René Descartes Faculty of Medicine.

The vegetable-tanned leather is cut to shape using a template.

After several days of drying in the sun, the panels are ready to be crafted into bags.

Peñafiel worked closely with Tuscan artisans to hone the innovative techniques required to produce an organic shape molded entirely in leather. Each irregularity in the artist’s original resin mold has been faithfully reproduced, from the uneven curves to the asymmetry and interrupted lines. The leather is formed in a metal press engraved with the shell shape of the original mold. Each bag is an artisanal work of art requiring precise adjustments based on the reaction of each leather to the action of the press and ambient air.

A magnetized metal framework maintains the bag’s shape and closes it securely. The Carlos bag is waxed by hand to achieve a transparent sheen similar to the waxy texture of a candle. Unique, delicate and inventive, this process honors the work-worn hands that craft the bags, as well as the organic qualities of the leather.

Photos by: Estelle Hanania, Osma Harvilahti

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