Mariasole Cecchi looked around at all the fashionable women of Paris and couldn’t help but notice they all had the same black Chanel handbag. The bag, no doubt beautiful in its simplistic elegance, somehow left her wanting. One day, in an attempt to liven up her accessory a little, Mariasole grabbed some legos—like the ones your niece and nephew have—and glued them onto her handbag, writing “Love” in big block letters. She wore her new creation out that evening and it caused an instant stir.
Mariasole then began designing bags for friends and family, before eventually leaving Europe for Brazil. It was in Brazil where her bags really began to take off. In no time, her bags were in the highest of demand from the most influential actresses and models, and it wasn’t long before Mariasole became a fashion icon in her own right. She’s been featured in the pages of Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar.
In 2013, Mariasole returned to her native Florence, where she teamed up with her brother, Andrea Cecchi, to launch the first official collection of her brand Les Petits Joueurs. The same year, Mariasole won the Vogue Talents competition for emerging designers. Since then, the star of LPJ has only continued to rise. In 2016, she was elected by the Business of Fashion as one of the 500 most influential people in the fashion industry. Her designs are now available in 145 countries and line the shelves of some of the world’s most prestigious stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Browns, Luisa Via Roma, and 10 Corso Como.
We recently caught up with Mariasole to hear more about her luxury brand on the rise and find out where she gets the inspiration for her eye-catching designs.
RYAN KILLIAN KRAUSE: You’ve described your career as a “fashion experiment gone wrong.” What does that mean?
MARIASOLE CECCHI: It’s more of a ‘fashion experiment gone right.” I played with Lego bricks and placed them on an old purse – doing this kickstarted my career. From there I launched my brand. This experiment put me where I am today.
RKK: The LOVE bag is the one that really got you attention at first. What was the inspiration for that bag?
MC: Back in my twenties, I was living in Paris and all the girls at that time were wearing the same black Chanel bag. I got bored of everyone wearing the same type of accessories and decided to customize an old bag I had at home by gluing Lego bricks onto it saying ‘Love.’ I wore it out that evening and people were stopping me on the street. I really wanted to create something unique, which rings true today. I want the people who wear Les Petits Joueurs to stand out.
RKK: Your designs have clear pop culture references. Can you describe the impact that popular culture has had on you as a designer and how that translates into your designs?
MC: I take in inspiration from everything around me. At Les Petits Joueurs’ inception, I was really inspired by pop culture and modern art. This inspired all of the colorful and bold designs. Today, I am still inspired by pop culture and modern art, along with other art forms, people, different cultures, and other centuries. I believe that creative design is really an evolution of yourself and yes it does depend on trends, but also your creative feelings in the moments when you’re developing a new collection. I always trust my initial feelings when I’m in that creative process.
RKK: Do you have a partnership with Lego for your bags?
MC: We don’t have a partnership with Lego, however, they’ve always been extremely supportive. They know about our work and love what we do, but we are not endorsed by them. In Les Petits Joueurs’ beginning, they really helped logistically with getting the large amount of Lego bricks we needed.
RKK: You were born in Florence, lived in Paris and did a stint in Sao Paolo. What impacts have these different cultures and the fashions they influence had on your designs?
MC: Traveling and living in different places was definitely the best ‘life school’ I could have. Meeting different people and being surrounded by different cultures, cities and countries really helped me in defining my creative personality.
RKK: I’ve read that you take trips twice a year for business, inspiration, and relaxation. Has there been a place or a culture that inspired you the most?
MC: There have been many trips that have inspired me. I’ve recently gone to Africa and my beloved Brazil. They are both an endless source of inspiration and positive vibes.
RKK: Where was your most recent trip?
MC: I was most recently in Los Angeles. I wanted to take a break and recharge in a sunny city that’s filled with vintage treasures that will definitely help inspire my next collection.
RKK: Where did the inspiration for this most recent collection come from?
MC: Our Fall/Winter collection, which is currently hitting stores, is very different from all my past collections. It’s inspired by the ’90s so I worked with clean shapes while adding Les Petits Joueurs’ unique elements such as color combinations and materials. It’s one of my favorite collections to date and I am proud of the digital campaign we created as it represents the collection’s concept and vibe perfectly.
RKK: You’ve credited fashion bloggers with helping Les Petits Joueurs really take off. What role do you think the bloggers have had in its success?
MC: Bloggers have really helped us get our brand message across to their followers by wearing our creations naturally. We’ve become friends with some amazing bloggers and we always appreciate their feedback and opinions.
RKK: Do you have a favorite handbag you’ve designed?
MC: I have so many favorites right now, and I wear my designs all the time. The dearest one to my heart will always be the first one I ever created, the Mini Alex Love Bag.
RKK: You opened your first boutique in 2016. What’s it like to have your own stand-alone location, especially since it’s in your hometown?
MC: It’s a great achievement and we are extremely proud. It’s a really amazing feeling and we can’t wait to expand even further. We also recently relocated our headquarters to Milan and are concentrating on our digital channel.
RKK: So, what’s next? What can we expect in the future from you and Les Petits Joueurs?
MC: Most recently we launched shoes, so we are working on growing that aspect of the brand. The feedback has already been amazing, so we will continue to expand into that market. We also have more collaborations and partnerships in the pipeline, as well as more fun and iconic pieces that will continue to help expand the Les Petits Joueurs brand even more!