My journey to uncover the designer of the hottest handbags starting to dominate both the casual and glitterati lifestyle of the highest-profile fashionistas, unveiled a surprising turn of events.
It It was not my passport that was needed to discover the genius of this emerging superstar, but simply a log-in to my Uber account.
Less than two miles from my Manhattan apartment, the workplace that Anthony Luciano calls home is reminiscent of a Northern Italian workshop, and, more importantly, is the studio delivering extraordinary handcrafted handbags to those with discerning taste, including the likes nof Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz and Debra Messing, just to name a few. I would love to spin a tale of a journey through Governors Island and a rich multi-generational history, but Anthony Luciano was raised in Upstate New York. With that said, his craft is timeless and his commitment to quality like no other. These masterpieces are reminiscent of a foregone era and he proudly produces every bespoke bag in his unique atelier right in New York City.
“My Italian grandparents firmly believed in the tradition of always placing money in a wallet or handbag they gave as a present. The penny represents a wish for prosperity for the person receiving the gift.”
Entering his workspace is exactly what you would expect to find in a different place and a different era — an inspired and timeless space teeming with creativity and a select few workers who somehow exemplify the art being created in their environment. His pieces, like his personality, range from refreshingly low-key to flamboyant and attitude-driven. For those with means, these highly-coveted handbags are rapidly rising to the top of the list as the “accessory of choice” for a casual trip to Starbucks or an E! moment on the red carpet.
Anthony Luciano’s passion to create one-of-a-kind handbags started at an extremely early age. Both his Italian heritage and being ensconced in the environment of his mother, a part-time seamstress, created a penchant for delicate handwork. Add to that an appreciation of the exacting craft of detailed woodworking derived from his father’s carpentry career, and the recipe for a modern day artisan starts to unfold.
After enrolling at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan where he studied apparel design, Luciano graduated and worked as a costume designer and patternmaker before joining a small accessories company. He quickly became the principal designer of the company’s vintage-inspired evening bags, and it was here that he discovered his true passion. Realizing his driving desire to create one-of-a-kind handbags, Anthony Luciano’s namesake brand was launched in 2000 and was immediately picked up by Stanley Korshak, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.
Each unique creation, many with vintage handles collected from all over the world, come with the addition of a penny sewn into the inside of the bag — his personal signature. “My Italian grandparents firmly believed in the tradition of always placing money in a wallet or handbag they gave as a present. The penny represents a wish for prosperity for the person receiving the gift. I remembered this when I started producing my bags, and since each design is really like a gift from me, I also wanted to carry on that family tradition.” Other signature details include a wide array of elegant materials, including python, alligator, mink and antelope, as well as hand-sewn leather flowers, opulent tassels and whip stitching.
The low profile stature of this “master of his craft” has gotten the attention of many, but this attention seemingly has not affected his humble and highly-focused commitment to delivering a stellar-quality product. Anthony Luciano’s couture handbag collection continues to be sold in numerous specialty boutiques. Today, he continues to proudly produce every bespoke bag in his garment center atelier. If the world was comprised of things with this much attention to detail and pure passion, we would all live in a better place.