When I first encountered BONASTRE, my first thoughts were that the overall tone of the collection evoked simplicity, modernity, minimalism and clean lines, almost a sort of Bauhaus. It’s very clear to me that the BONASTRE design philosophy is very much in tune with many of today’s fashion designers. The next thing that occurred to me is that Fernando Bonastre might be compared or spoken of this way; he is the Jil Sander (the real one) of leather goods, or maybe he is the Kris van Assche of leather accessories. Nonetheless, hopefully you get the point. It is all about clean, simple, almost architecturally well designed bags and small leather goods that will appeal to those who eschew logos and signatures and are much more focused and intent on owning/carrying original and thoroughly modern designs. The only common thread is that these clients insist on the highest of quality.
An extra added proponent of BONASTRE is its innate quality of the raw materials and its practices utilizing leathers which age in a way that increases the physical appeal of each piece. There is so much current talk about natural, environmentally friendly and sustainable and apparently Monsieur Bonastre has been way ahead of the curve in this respect as this has been part of his M.O. since the beginning.
Please have a read and meet the man with a plan... FERNANDO BONASTRE …in his own words
1-Do you have a reason that you have chosen this minimalist look for your collections? Inspirations?
Showing off is not my culture, all the opposite: I believe in the discretion of luxury. Minimalism gives power to the design and also to the natural leather, and it is all about construction too … I am also fascinated by vegetable tanned leather, its texture, its smell and its natural character that takes a natural patina over time. It is a living and noble material, like wood. I am also fascinated by architects such as Oscar Niemeyer and Tadao Ando and by industrial design. This makes me want to redesign the traditional construction of bags.... and all in an atmosphere of Alternative Rock!
2-all of your styles are quite functional and most of them are unisex...your philosophy? Reasoning?
Thank you for noticing that my bags are functional, because to me, the function is the ultimate purpose of a bag. A bag is an extension of your body and mind. That is why the choice of a bag is so personal; each one of us is a bit OCD about what he or she expects from a bag. Actually my bags are not really unisex simply because a man would never wear a bag that a woman would wear and a woman needs her bag to respect very particular feminine codes (function, inside organization, shape and space, hardware, color….)
3-will you ever vary material and let’s say use hair calf or some fur as a novelty? Leopard pattern? Enlarge your color palette? Why?
I am proud of our ethical charter in working with leather tanned with vegetable tannins. The leather industry is one of the most contaminating because of the chemicals and chromium which turns leather into plastic, and we don’t want to participate to this contamination or work with this dead material. For that reason, I don’t think I’ll ever work with fur or with leather that doesn’t come from a recycling process. In the past, I have designed lines using vulcanized cotton or 100% natural wool, and actually our linings are in 100% recycled cotton. In terms of colours, we work with black, Terra brown, Cement Grey as a base, but every season we introduce a new colour as chocolate brown for the Summer or Bloody Red for next Winter, etc…
4-what is your plan for the brand in terms of points of sale and product expansion?
BONASTRE is in a phase of development. Our worldwide doors are the best. As a reference: Barneys NY in US, Le Bon Marché, Le Printemps, and L'Éclaireur in Paris, Luisa Via Roma in Italy, Wako, and United Arrows in Japan, Samsung and Hyundai in South Korea, Galeries Lafayette in Indonesia, The Conran Shop in UK, or the corner online .... In 2016 we plan to open a 2nd shop in Paris. We also plan openings in International capitals as NY, Seoul and Tokyo….
5-now, we ask a few things about you… how did you arrive at designing a leather collection?
I graduated at the University of Fashion in Madrid, Master of Marketing and Image applied to luxury. I started working in Paris at Lacroix Haute-Couture, then Montana, then in the Ready-to-Wear, simultaneously as a Stylist, Image Manager and Artistic Director. It originally happened when I was looking for THE Laptop Case to attend to an interview with a Head Hunter in New-York!!!....in vain, and I said ...Why shouldn't I design my own??? …and this is howdiscovered my passion for the Leather work
6-can you say that there is a collection of prêt à porter that would be a parallel to what you do? Or if you could design leather for a collection other than yours …Who would that be and why?
I have a great admiration for the conceptual approach of some Japanese Designers as Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe, Issey Miyake or Rei Kawakubo… I admire the continual questioning, which makes the Fashion evolve and going forward, always….I’m so obsessed with the Hussein Chalayan’s work and his technological and convertible approach…and yet so poetic, but also JW Anderson, Céline, Rick Owens, The Row, Delpozo… So many great talents!!And last but not least, Cristobal Balenciaga remains the most talented designer. With highest honors to Madeleine Vionnet.
7-do you have style or fashion mentors/icons and why them?
I learned a lot from Claude Montana and from his architectural approach of Fashion. This is also where I discovered my passion for leather.
8-If you could invite any 5 people to dinner at your home… who would you invite and why … anyone at all
Matthieu Ricard, a French a PhD degree in molecular genetics at the Pasteur Institute converted to a Buddhist Lama … Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect …Tom York and David Bowie … David Lynch … Such special personalities together would definitely be a magic moment!
9-why should people buy Bonastre? What is it that makes your product better or different from what is already in the marketplace?
The CONTEMPORANEOUS SIMPLICITY of the design versus the established codes, the ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY ethic, the respect of the ARTS and HANDCRAFTS… In the other hand, there is a place for everyone….
10-if you did not have your collection what would you be doing as a profession and why?
An architect…I like working on the space and I like to consider the space that Man takes on this planet. Or a psychoanalyst, to understand how each one traumas and own history make people react in such or such way. I also like to listen to understand, not listen to answer ...