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Christian Louboutin’s Portugaba tote nods to Portugal’s rich history and tradition of craftsmanship.

“Portugal is one of the places I go to design my summer collections. The light here, the laid-back people and the vibe is very inspiring to me.”

From the sun-drenched coast of the Algarve to the brightly tiled streets of Lisbon, Portugal summons vivid images and serves as a source of creative inspiration for designer Christian Louboutin.

“Year after year, I have spent days exploring different regions following recommendations from friends, going from a little embroiderer in Alentejo to a cestería [basketry workshop] in the Algarve. I’ve discovered people with a great savoir faire and a real sense for colour combination and patterns. It gave me the desire to design a bag as a tribute to the love I have for this country.”

Aligning with artisans from across the country, the creation of the Portugaba tote nods to Portugal’s rich history and tradition of craftsmanship.

“You have a lot of ways to imagine Portugal but I really wanted to create a bag that felt quite earthy because there is something almost rustic in the Portuguese modality. I didn’t want something too delicate; I wanted the bag to have a form of solidity.”

Serving almost like an artisanal map of Portugal – the beadwork on its handles, the referencing of azulejos tiles, the masterly mix of bold colours on its fringe – the Portugaba is a manifesto of skills, time and artistry.

An Artisanal Map of Portugal

Miranda do Douro

Located in the north of Portugal, Miranda do Douro is the birthplace of the Capa de Honras – jacket of honour – one of Portugal’s oldest traditional costumes. The wealthier the owner the more ornate and intricate the decorative details – hearts, for example, signify affluence, abundance and love. Applying this artistry to the front panel of the Portugaba bags – in the form a CL coat of arms – gives the traditional decoration a more modern feel.

Fridão

A small village in northwest Portugal, Fridão was once home to the largest number of weavers in the region. The area is famed for its application of puxados, a technique which involves pulling individual threads through a piece of fabric in order to create high and low reliefs with a look and feel similar to velvet. The right side panel of the Portugaba is a tribute to puxados experts, who dedicate themselves to the tradition.

Ribeira de Pena

Working with cotton, local artisans in the municipality of Ribeira de Pena have over twenty years of experience using the technique of picado. The technique consists of cutting complex patterns into the top layer of wool using only scissors. Everything is done freehand and through instinct. Traditionally used to make cushions, tablecloths, bedspreads and attire, the panels take up three hours to create.

Mafra and Ericeira

A small village between Mafra and Ericeira is responsible for the bead-embellished handles you see at the top of the Portugaba. The beads reflect the style of Portugal’s azulejos tiles, which are often seen covering the exterior of traditional buildings. These centuries-old ceramic tiles bear distinctive traditional patterns which here have been repurposed, transferred by hand onto beads, are then kiln-fired. Each piece takes almost an hour to complete.

A portion of the proceeds from every sale of the Portugaba bag will be donated to Portuguese charities. christianlouboutin.com

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