“It didn’t start with a specific mission,” explains Amsterdam-based Elza Wandler of her eponymous line, which she launched just last year. “It was more about creating something I wasn’t finding in the market.” That something is a brand that sits somewhere between contemporary and luxury—clean and minimal, with highly considered design and top-quality construction. The Hortensia bag was one of the first styles created and represents all of the qualities that make the line so covetable.
With its rounded edges and trapeze-inspired sides, the bag’s silhouette isn’t easy to define. “When I developed this shape, the person in the Italian factory said to me, ‘Wow, you developed a new hobo shape!’ But I didn’t see it that way,” recalls Wandler. Shape is at the core of her design process, which includes a mood board of fabric swatches collected in Paris and Milan at trade shows. Instead of sketching, she begins by sewing or even sometimes creating designs out of A4 paper—anything that can create a 3-D shape. “That way it’s easier for me, because it starts to live and breathe. It’s almost like sculpting with clay.”
The Hortensia’s silhouette came out organically during the process of building on the shape. “I kept tweaking it, and it just happened. I knew it would be something special once it was done. It felt like it should already exist in the world, which is always a good sign.” Like the rest of the Wandler collection, the beautifully proportioned bag is produced in Italy with super-soft, Italian calf leather.
Available in both medium and small sizes, the Hortensia has multiple pockets, making it perfect for everyday use, and a removable strap for versatility. “I think this bag looks great with a bohemian flower dress or with Levi’s and loafers,” Wandler says, adding that she likes to take the strap off the mini version for a night out. The designer also puts an emphasis on creating special colors, with shades like poppy formulated in house. Barneys has several exclusive hues, including the colorblocked versions above. All of these thoughtful details come together to earn the Hortensia bag a spot as this month’s Must. Have. Bag, and we can’t wait to see what new silhouette Wandler comes up with next.