New York—Carlos Falchi, the Brazilian-born accessories designer, who started out dressing rockers in 1970s eventually rising to create one of the hottest handbag collection ever, died Friday, March 27 after a brief illness.
He is best known for his high-end patchwork designs in exotic skins including python, alligator and caiman. Falchi began as a West Village hippie, stitching together leather outfits for performers such as Patti Smith, Miles Davis, Tina Turner and Mick Jagger. His handbag focus arose thanks to the advice of Geraldine Stutz, the retail legend of Henri Bendel.
“His style, for better or worse, was rough and improvised,” wrote The New York Times in an article about Mr. Falchi five years ago. “It was unsnobbish. Missy Falchi, who was working in the special events office at Neiman Marcus in Dallas when she met her husband, said: ‘When you bought that buffalo leather bag of his, you felt so out there. It was a quiet rebellion of a generation of women who didn’t want what their mothers had.’”
Over the years his customers have included first ladies Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Nancy Reagan, Sharon Stone, Tina Turner, Cate Blanchett, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Heidi Klum and Tina Fey.
In addition to other awards and nominations, Mr. Falchi received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Accessories Council of America in 2004 and the Independent Handbag Designs of America in 2007. Several of Mr. Falchi’s designs are in the permanent collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mr. Falchi is survived by wife Missy, daughter Kate, the chief designer/president of Carlos Falchi Couture, and daughter Juliet, a manager of global product innovation at Estée Lauder.