Some time ago, just after I had posted about La Fortune, I was contacted by Rose Alves. She was selling her handmade bags at La Fortune, would I be interested in featuring her on the blog? You know I would be interested, so I quickly got in touch with Rose and an email exchange ensued to arrange a photo shoot. It took place a few weeks ago, and I am delighted to share with you today: BCN Handmade – Musa Bamba.
The very friendly Rose has a studio and showroom set up in her home in the Eixample Dreta district of Barcelona, where sunlight streams in the French windows on most days of the year. She had moved recently and indicated that things weren’t quite as she wanted them to be yet, although they looked just fine to me. We chatted and she explained how, using a technique called “fuxico” she makes her very pretty necklaces and handbags, which range from small, simple styles, to medium ones and much larger ones, many of which are adjustable with several snap buttons to allow them to transform into different shapes and sizes. Very clever!
Her Musa Bamba bags and jewellery are her main project, but on the side Rose also scours flea markets for cool vintage or antique clothes and shoes, which she perks up with a bit of TLC, either adding appliqués, adjusting their patterns or simply mending what needs fixing. These she sells under the brandname Musa B. But that is not all, for does more! But I think it’s time we allowed Rose to tell us in her own words… check out what she has to say after the page break, following a slideshow of images taken during our shoot.
Where are you from?
I am from Brazil, from a village in Minas Gerais called Muzambinho.
What does Barcelona mean to you?
Barcelona is the city I fell in love with many years ago. I was on holiday here in 1995 and I loved everything about it! After 10 years, in 2006, I returned for a few months and ended up staying. Here I find qualities that for me are essential in a city, such as a good climate, good food and getting around easily. After living in a metropolis as large as São Paulo, Barcelona seems small and cosy, without being provincial.
It’s difficult to choose only one place from among the many that I like. The squares are very beautiful, although they tend to be filled with tourists. One that I love and which still maintains its tranquility is Plaça de Sant Pere.
When I arrived in Barcelona a friend took me to a restaurant in Barceloneta which still is one of my favourites, the Cova Fumada. It’s one of those places that has been there ‘forever’, which is still in the hands of the same family and never lost its identity. They prepare simple and delicious tapas, which are cooked by the grandmother and served by the grandchildren.
I studied journalism, but was always drawn to fashion. So as soon as I finished my studies I started creating and sewing my first garments. At the beginning they were commissions for friends, but things started to grow and taking shape. The next step was to study dressmaking, patternmaking and create my own label. I moved to São Paulo and established a showroom where I worked until 2005, which is when I decided to spend some time in London before going to Barcelona. Fashion has always been present in my life, as I come from a family of dressmakers. It was my mother who gave me my first bits of fabric and a love of fashion.
How did you get here?
When I started Musa Bamba I only did clothes. They were garments that were completely hand sewn with a technique I still use today called “fuxico“. It is a very traditional craft from the region I come from, Minas Gerais, which consists of making small, gathered fabric circles. Then I would join them directly on the mannequin with a technique called moulage. It was very labour-intensive work and it depended on the workmanship of the artisans in Minas. When I came to Barcelona I changed to a line of accessories because I wanted my production to be centered here, where this type of workmanship does not exist. Today I create bags, jewelry and accessories for Musa Bamba. I continue to make garments with “fuxico” on commission and they are produced in Brazil. A little while ago I started a parallel project which consists of selecting and transforming vintage clothes. They are collections of unique garments that have been altered, where the prints have been reworked o that simply have been mended where necessary. I call this project Musa B.
How does inspiration strike?
Ideas can come at any moment and from anywhere. All we need to do is be awake!
What inspires you?
I believe that one of the biggest inspirations comes from observing a well-made garment. I love going to flea markets and finding antique clothes, made by hand and finished by hand. To observe fashion on the street, the way each of us interprets trends is also inspiring.
What do you find inspiring about your making process?
When the idea strikes and later, when I see it come to a satisfying conclusion. The process of making, when the product is repeated constantly, doesn’t stimulate me. That’s why I like working on exclusive pieces. Each one has its own particular story and that motivates me.
What we all wish for the future is to get there. And if I get there being a better person, doing what I enjoy, I’ll be very satisfied.
Quite something, right? I can’t begin to tell you how very happy I am that Rose got in touch with me, and allowed me to share her pretty bags and jewellery with you. She is setting up her showroom at the moment and will let me know once it’s operational. Meanwhile, if you’d like to purchase one of her Musa Bamba bags, you can either visit one of the shops where she sells them, or simply buy them online from the Musa Bamba online boutique.
I have my eye on this so very pretty top in soft pink, and hope it will still be available once the showroom opens its doors to the public! Thanks very much Rose for your warm welcome! I look forward to seeing more beautiful bags, garments and vintage treasures that you create! Check out the Musa Bamba website for more info, and its Facebook page for updates. And if, like me, you’re dying to get your dainty little hands on one of Rose’s pretty items, then head to one of these shops or simply shop online.