TOUCH: Hacienda Montaecristo

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

It’s been almost a year since we made the acquaintance of Francesca Bonato, the breathtaking beauty and warm personality responsible for Hacienda Montaecristo, an eclectic collection of jewelry, accessories, leather goods, and home accents produced in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Along with her business partner Jacopo, Francesca infuses all of her wares with a slightly mystical, almost medieval quality, dispensing of any excess or frill in favor of functionality, beauty, and the utmost quality. Her seemingly limitless imagination of the Hacienda Montaecristo aesthetic is reflected in the wide variety of items that she has bestowed upon Castor & Pollux in the past year – hand-braided collar necklaces dripping with gilt medallions, sturdy leather flip-flops, hammocks and silk rebozos.

We’ve been really lucky to collaborate with Hacienda Montaecristo on a number of items. First came the sumptuous, oversized, hand-woven rebozo scarves in colorways created exclusively for Castor & Pollux, arriving this past fall in boxes battered by days in Customs and marked with the telltale Valladolid return address. The following spring saw an even greater delight – a cotton tote bag, hand-embroidered by the Hacienda Montaecristo artisans with the iconic Castor & Pollux logo.

There is, of course, a story behind the bag. On a visit to Valladolid this past Thanksgiving, Francesca presented Kerrilynn with a token of their friendship – a raw cotton tote bag, accented with sturdy leather and adorned with an image of two horses joined by an ampersand, recognizable to anyone who frequents Castor & Pollux’s West 10th Street storefront. It was emblematic of the vibe that she and Kerrilynn cherished – unstudied, practical, and timeless, made by hand with locally sourced materials. Kerrilynn loved Francesca’s creation and immediately requested a run of fifty of them to share with her customers. Four months later, they arrived in the store.

The same artisans who spend a month creating each custom rebozo brought their hand-embroidering skills to the tote, rendering our logo in silky black thread. Each logo is individual, and unique evidence of the artisans’ handiwork appears on the bags in unexpected places. The soft leather handles make the bag durable enough for racing around the city, and the un-dyed cotton and un-fussy construction make it casual enough for weekends upstate. The bag measures 16” x 14” and has 14” handles – the same dimensions of the bag that Frida Kahlo used for running errands around Mexico City.

As summer wears on, we’re seeing the bag around town, popping up in unexpected places. We hope that it continues to make day trips – to the greenmarket, to Prospect Park, to Rockaway Taco – for decades to come.

Francesca Bonato

Monday, October 4th, 2010

For many months I heard about Francesca: friends, customers and designers all encouraged me to look at the jewelry that she was making in Mexico with her partner, Jacopo.  We kept missing each other in our travels but started up an email relationship this summer and many, many emails later I was fortunate enough to meet her. I had heard lots about her kindness, beauty and laughter but none of it prepared me for the magical woman that showed up in September with her exquisite creations. She lives her life filled with compassion, love and beauty -something I think we should all aspire to. I hope you’re as inspired as I am.

Photo by John von Pamer

Favorite recipe?
Parmigiana di Melanzane.

Last great book you read?
Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis

Autumn drink of choice?
Martini Bianco – always!

Your Animals-names and breeds?
A rabbit named Rodolfo.

Do you exercise? What do you do, if so?
I walk on the beach.

Salty or sweet?

Who inspires you and why?
The Classics, for their eternal truth.

Pool or ocean?

Favorite city?

Last great vacation?

Favorite tv show?

Weirdest job you’ve ever had?
Living at the mountains for five months during the 2006 Winter Olympic Games!

Favorite restaurant?
L’Hotel du Gallion in Paris.

Favorite object in your home?
Old Louis IV Chair.

Favorite piece of clothing?
The blouse that Riccardo Tisci gave me when my son, Leon, was born.

Favorite blog or website?

Something you’re scared of?

Favorite record?
Rolling Stones “I Miss You”.

Favorite popsong?
Madonna “Like a Virgin”.

Your Ideal day?
Wake up. Silence. Croissant, coffee and flea market with Leon, my baby boy, and my best friend. Then get dressed up for the opera and late dinner out.

Favorite gift you’ve ever received?
Leon’s name in gold – I always wear it.

Favorite flower?

Favorite perfume?
Chanel No. 5 and of course our Coqui Coqui fragrances!

Astrological sign?
Capricorn in balance.

What do you do for a living?
Designer of Hacienda Montaecristo.

Where do you live?

Your lucky number?

What piece of art would you buy if you had absolutely no budget?
La Cappella Sistina in Vaticano, Rome

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