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 & Polluxâ€™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 artisansâ€™ 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 16â€ x 14â€ and has 14â€ 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.