OZB met designer Anca Irina Lefter in her office on Luigi Cazzavilan St, a creative space hosting several other creative people – an architecture office, a tattoo artist, a designer and a Romanian brands only shop (CZVL12).
We talked about bags and leather accessories – the main activity of the AIL brand that Anca has been running since 2012, about the ups and downs that her business has been through, all in the sporadic company of her excitable beagle.
By Ada Popescu
Born in Tulcea, Anca moved to art school Nicolae Toniza in Bucharest aged 16, where she studied mural art – sgraffito, grafito, fresco – but also stained glass and painting. She dreamt of attending Lorenzo de Medici art school in Italy but real life took her on a detour and she worked in sales and real estate for a while, motivated by earning the money that would allow her to go to Italy. Eventually she returned to art and design and attended “The European Institute of Design” in Barcelona, Accessory Design Section and she also studied leather design and processing at “The European Institute of Design” in Florence and “Santa Croce – The Leather School in Florence”.
AIL is not the first brand name she has started under. In 2009 she presented her designs under the name of Little Artist and the world was at her feet. When anyone would ask her what it was like to be a designer she would say it was fun and easy. Everyone seemed to be willing to help and lend a hand, she would leave her bags here and there and soon the phone started ringing. So much so that she thought it was ringing too much and so she disappeared under the radar, losing in one year all that she had built before. Anca says she needed around three years to start recovering from what she now calls a decline caused by letting things go to her head, an important lesson that she now values and can talk about with detachment.
AIL–BAGS WITH A TWIST
These days Anca is planning to reopen a workshop that will allow her to play with and test her designs more easily. Her latest collection is called Saga and is a reinterpretation of the famous 90s waist bag that will trigger memories of summer vacations, seaside trips and travelling. The bags come in two sizes and a few different colours and also have a shoulder strap.
AIL’s signature bags though are the vinyl ones, but music lovers should not be horrified–no living records were injured in this process, all vinyls used were already scratched and useless for musical purposes.
One of the bags that draws attention is the Canvas Bag, a handbag created in collaboration with painter Marcel Thiele, using special resins on canvas. Another is the handcuffs bag (photo below), a triangular shaped creation inspired by the #Rezist protests, a bag that unfolds into an hourglass shape, with a tongue in cheek concept of portraying ”the way time passes in Romania”.
Anca Irina Lefter is a complete designer and entrepreneur, selling her designs to other brands (such as Tudor–Personal Taylor) and also creating bespoke bags. If you want her to create something just for you, she will ask you a few questions and the final product will reflect your personality as it transpired from the conversation.
Anca’s designs are available in stores such as moja.ro, etsy.com and her personal website: www.ancairinalefter.com.