Los Angeles based Cecilia Bordarampé founded Are Studio in 2012 as a leather bag company that crafts purposefully minimalist and timeless bags. Bags that can be worn everyday, and stand out or blend in as necessary. A blank slate of sorts, in the best of ways. It probably comes as no surprise then that Cecilia’s personal style is a perfect extension of her brand ethos. We would describe it as… a big exhale.
Describe your style in three words.
Understated, uncomplicated, refined.
Your company, Are Studio, designs bags that are equal parts minimalistic and elegant. How does that translate to the way you dress? Do you choose a bag to compliment your outfit or do you dress around your bag?
In both my personal style and bag design, I try to pare down whenever possible, letting materials and forms speak for themselves, staying away from extraneous details that could overpower the whole. Keeping within a mostly neutral palette makes it easy to create harmonious pairings along with bags. As Are Studio has evolved over the seasons, I’ve noticed a nice hint of color creeping into the colorways, as well as in my personal style, but it’s always a muted shade that still can be versatile.
I’m a creature of habit, so on the day-to-day I wear one of two tote bag styles – Barrel or Revista (and sometimes both when I have a lot going on!) because they generally fit everything I need to go from home to studio and run errands throughout the day – function is ultimately my first consideration. For an evening out, however, I typically choose my bag last and see where it balances other elements of what I’m wearing – color, shape, size, mood… sometimes I don’t feel like carrying a bag, so I reach for our Post wallet, which I use as a clutch.
What’s your earliest memory of understanding what style was?
The first time I started to individualize in terms of style was in 6th grade. We had a family friend who owned a vintage shop and she would let me come in and try everything on. I always walked out of the shop with 30s and 40s dresses and sometimes some 70s bell bottoms, which I definitely wore to school. I was aware that I looked different from everyone else and I liked knowing that I had something unique to say with what I wore. I’m sure on some days I channeled a librarian look from another era, but it felt fun and experimental for that time.
What drew you to designing bags?
It actually started with a personal need. I couldn’t find a bag that I liked that was void of too much hardware, so I tried making one for myself. I quickly realized that designing handbags wasn’t so different from my own art practice and loved the challenge of designing with sculpture and architecture in mind. In a sense, it began as an exploration in making a practical object feel intentional and personal. In expanding the collection, I’ve since developed a more conceptual interpretation of what it means to carry a bag, extending the self in a functional way, deciding what objects to bring along that facilitate different possibilities throughout the day. The choice of which bag to carry becomes quite an intimate one and I enjoy being able to offer this to others as an opportunity for reflection and intentionality.
Do you think your style will evolve more as you age? Or have you hit your stride and sticking to it?
I’m sure my style will evolve as I get older, but the main elements will always be there – an eye towards minimalism, with a romantic flare at times. There is so much room within that to be playful with what I wear. Eventually, I exhaust certain style interests and need to let them go for others to come in, but one thing is for sure, I never tire of wearing a simple button down shirt with jeans. Some things remain timeless.