Shoe Repair London, Handbag Repairs London - The Restory, London

Restoring Irina Lakicevic's Céline Bag

Emily John
 MINT Journal Founder Irina Lakicevic with her Céline Tie Tote Bag.  Image: Adam Katz Sinding

MINT Journal Founder Irina Lakicevic with her Céline Tie Tote Bag.

Image: Adam Katz Sinding

The Piece

Céline has established itself as an industry favourite not only through its iconic minimalistic designs but also through the use of exquisite luxury materials such as smooth calfskin, wool and suede – thank you Phoebe! We recently had the chance to restore Irina Lakicevic’s first ever Céline bag and not unlike many other fashion insiders, she has been a loyal fan ever since. In Irina’s own words: “I just loved how special the colour and the shape was. It was crisp, yet not clinical and the colour just worked with everything.” Equally amazed by the beautiful quality of the leather and unique colour depth of her Céline Tie Tote, we felt compelled to dedicate a case study to this special piece.

 

The Tie Tote bag was first introduced during their Winter 2013 Collection and was a revised version of the highly popular Céline Phantom. The exterior of Irina’s tote is made out of robust saddle leather in an intense Brick shade and the large front flap can be worn tucked inside. In the case of this Céline, the deep multi-layered tone is not achieved through a flat paint. Meaning, the leather is vegetable tanned, where the natural characteristics and transparency of the material is kept intact, and dyed with natural tannins. During its life, this bag will acquire a difference in tonality that is called a patina and retain some marks that add to its unique character.

 Before: the interior of Céline Tie Tote Bag

Before: the interior of Céline Tie Tote Bag

 Before: visible watermarks on leather exterior

Before: visible watermarks on leather exterior

The Approach

This piece showed a large watermark across the bottom part of the body while the general colour had turned a bit dull. Moreover, the edge paint had signs of cracking due to dryness and age and the stained lining required a deep clean. If the client prefers to eliminate all the dark marks and tone variations present in the leather, we’d then use a paint that will blend in and lightly cover the natural tone. However, this approach would change the natural characteristic of the leather and hide its patina. Though, when an item is too damaged, for instance with pen marks, then this will prove to be the best approach. The second option is to use special cleaning techniques and remove as much of the dirt and watermarks as possible. The tone is then enhanced with a combination of dyes and conditioners. These dyes are trans lucid and will just add a hint of colour to the leather without completely covering any deep stains or the original colour. As the stains were manageable, the second technique was chosen to preserve the natural look of Irina’s bag.

 

The Process

The first step of the restoration was to reduce the watermarks by using products especially designed for vegetable tanned leather. And this type of cleaning also helps to condition the leather from the inside out. The interior of this Céline bag is unlined and has a suede like appearance, which tends to gather a lot of dirt. While cleaning the inside of the bag, we also took the opportunity to remove any damaged edge paint, which is the thicker paint that covers the edge of the leather as seen on straps, details and the gusset of your bag.

 Process: enhancing the leather exterior

Process: enhancing the leather exterior

 After: cleaned interior

After: cleaned interior

 Once the old edge paint was removed and the bag was fully cleaned, we applied the newly hand-matched paint to seal the edges of the leather and improve the look of the handles. The edging had to be done in several coatings and allowing time in between each layer to make sure the paint properly adheres to the material. The last part of the restoration process was to enhance the overall colour of the bag. The rich tint that’s achieved through a combination of natural dyes and cream gave “new life “to the leather, as it added depth to the colour and reduced the appearance of scratches. Finally, a layer of wax was applied to seal in the dyes and polish the leather.  

Irina was so pleased with the restoration of her Céline Tie Tote Bag that she remarked: “I really never thought that my bag could look almost new after the restoration, bearing in mind that I have spilled green juice in it as well. I love how a bag that I didn't think could be brought back to life has regained its lustre! “

 After: Céline Tie Tote in Brick

After: Céline Tie Tote in Brick

The Restory specialises in offering seamless repairs through the use of tailored artisan skill. Our ultimate goal is to carry out ‘invisible’ restorations and bring any piece back to its (near) original state. Curious about our bespoke work? Fill out a Quote Request Form and receive a preliminary quote.

Reviving Vintage Gucci

Emily John

Transcending seasons, Gucci is continuously on top of the accessories game. So when we received several vintage Gucci designs, it was unanimously agreed it would make the ultimate case study to take these under the loop together. Read on to see how we revived some of this season’s hottest accessories.

Refashioning The Summer Basket

Emily John
 Final Result: Basket Backpack

Final Result: Basket Backpack

Basket weaving is one of the oldest art forms known and trace all the way back to the Egyptian pyramids, even preceding pottery making. Historically, baskets were used as containers for everything from food to transportation and were considered an everyday essential. Due to travelling merchants, different techniques of basket weaving were transferred from one continent to the other. Generally made out of willow, basket making in Britain became standardized after The Industrial Revolution, fulfilling the great demand during that time. And it was only after plastic was introduced in the 1950s that the demand for willow declined in this industry. However, the labour-intensive craft and technique of basket making remains largely untouched since the Iron Age. 

We know that fashion loves to reference history and basket bags as well as woven handbags have been going strong for a few seasons now and it doesn’t seem this obsession is about to die down anytime soon. Maybe it’s just a trend, or maybe we are all becoming more conscious of what type of materials we choose to wear with sustainable fashion in mind. Whatever the reason, at The Restory we are great supporters of wearing natural fibres and reworking and re-wearing them.  We also love a challenge so when our own Head of Marketing Emily John came to the atelier with a very well loved basket, we decided to create an exciting little project.

The bag was originally bought in Mauritius many years ago and she had loved it so much that the handles were completely gone, but inspired by the many different basket styles out there she felt it was time to revive the once cherished piece. A company perk- we know! So our atelier team drafted three creative designs: a tote with thin leather straps and hand painted colourful Sicilian lemons crafted out of leather, where the shape of the bag would remain the same but with an added pop of colour; a bucket bag, playing with the shape of the basket and sleek orange drawstrings and straps; and finally a backpack that would suit her practicality and busy lifestyle, with brown natural veg tanned leather, a gold hoop detail at the front and striped navy lining- mixing both urban and a nautical holiday look.

When it came down to making a choice, she loved the sketches so much it was a tough call, so we decided to let our clients vote for their favourite design on our Instagram stories- et voilà, with 74% yays, the backpack was chosen as the winner of our poll!

 Bucket bag design

Bucket bag design

 Backpack design

Backpack design

 Tropical tote design

Tropical tote design

 

The Process

To turn this simple basket into a trendy but never-out- of-style backpack, our atelier team started the re-make by taking the correct measurements of the basket and creating patterns for the straps and the flap. We sourced all the hardware required for the front flap and shoulder straps and opted for a new lining to refresh the interior as well.

Next, the leather pieces were cut and dyed to a dark brown shade. One of the characteristics of vegetable tanned leather is that it tends to age and acquire a patina later. So the naturally darker leather will compliment the wicker material of the basket even better over time. The edges of the leather pieces were buffed and dyed and the holes to place the hand stitching was carefully measured and pierced. Creating holes in the leather beforehand is necessary to carry out the stitching smoothly in the thick material of veg tanned leather. This also creates a professional finish and eliminates the chance of the work looking like a DIY project. We chose a durable thick-waxed cotton cord that is able to support the weight while keeping the style of the backpack casual. After preparing all components such as the straps, leather tabs, front flap and top handle, the separate pieces were glued together before placing the hardware. The stitching was carried out using two leather needles and for added security we also glued extra pieces onto the interior for support.

 Taking measurements and creating patterns for the front flap

Taking measurements and creating patterns for the front flap

 

Finally, the curves and lines of the basket interior was measured and recreated on a paper pattern before it was cut out in fabric. The last step was to iron and hand stitch the piece of cloth with invisible stitching while leaving one centimetre as a seam allowance at the top of the bag. As a result of this creative design process, the basket is now unrecognizably transformed into a great new bag to be enjoyed even after the summer is over and Emily is absolutely thrilled with how the bucket bag turned out.

This is a great example of how it is never too late to revive an old favourite that has been gathering dust in your closet. And if you’d like to see your own basket bag transformed into something more practical or novelty, The Restory team is able to tailor the design to fit your lifestyle perfectly. So once the holiday feeling wears off, extend the life of your basket beyond the summer with our personalization service. As an added bonus, you’ll have the chance to receive the finished product with a beautifully wrapped summer gift inside!

 Before the redesign

Before the redesign

 After the redesign

After the redesign

 After the redesign

After the redesign

Book a complimentary collection or drop your basket at Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge to enjoy this summer exclusive! 

Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Pumps

Emily John

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Dylan Winn-Brown

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Vintage Suitcase

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Mulberry Jacket

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When we can’t find a solution, we make our own. When this Mulberry Jacket was missing one of its unique floral clasps, our Atelier Team created and replaced a leather piece in line with the original design.