Last June at a small gallery presentation for family and friends, designer Montserrat Alverez displayed her new line of Heimat-Atlantica bags. A year later, the brand, which incorporates design techniques from her heritage, has landed at Barneys New York.
Though Montserrat is Paris-based, she draws inspiration from her studies in Rome, her routes in Galicia—a province of Spain—as well as her travels to Portugal and other countries. Her wanderlust is reflected by the bag’s individual style names too, as each mean “love” in a different language. “Heimat-Atlantica bags are for a traveler’s soul. I named the brand ‘heimat’ from a German term, meaning the special bond one has with their origins or country within. In my case that echoes my childhood landscape in Galicia—the Atlantic coast.” she notes. The bags are made with colorful reed and symbolic Galician charms through partnerships with the artisan communities in north Portugal and Spain.
For the Heimat-Atlantica’s construction process, a Portuguese handwoven technique is used, and then Montserrat works with the Sargadelos factory in Spain for each porcelain embellishment. Sargadelos preserves the Spanish tradition as one of the most unique companies in the region.
“I imagined my ancestor’s techniques coming together with contemporary ideas to create this new energy,” she explains. “Because I have a background in art history, I was drawn to mixing the reed-weaving and porcelain to make something new and my own. My creative process is essentially giant collage of different elements.”
In regards to the partnership she’s built with local communities to hand-create Heimat-Altantica’s bags from start to finish, Montserrat is quick to point out that all of the artisans have extraordinary skills and talent. For example, Celeste is the Portuguese master craftswomen of the woven reed technique and has been perfecting this since she was only 8 years old. “I was really impressed by the quality of her work, her self-demanding perfectionism, and passion. Together, we’re all like a family,” reflects Montserrat.
“We carefully select the reed materials, sun-dry them in the fields, and then apply color pigments,” she explains. “The reed is then woven on handlooms by Celeste in Portugual to produce different patterns.” The bags are completed in Spain, where a hand-painted porcelain piece and leather lining is added. All the charms have different mythological origins, fabled to protect the wearer. The Biser couple charm on the exclusive Love Mini-Satchel is meant to bring love, and the Cigarron mask on the Amour helps those seeking happiness.
As for the future, Montserrat only hopes to continue her entrepreneurial initiative, “I am working on a leather version of the love bag and a new project with a craftswoman and shells—there’s plenty to come!” She hopes to continue to build partnerships with handcraft workshops and create more artisanal products for the modern fashion space. We can’t wait to see what’s up next and to carry these bags this summer and beyond.