"I wanted to challenge the standard formula for luxury," explained Kristine Johannes of Rauwolf - and boy, did she ever. The German-born, New York-based designer cut her teeth at Calypso, J.Crew and Devi Kroell before launching her own label in 2011.(Rauwolf is her mother's maiden name.)
Modern, architectural and luxurious, Johannes's creations turn the typical exotic skin and beaded minaudiere conventions upside-down. Produced in an Italian factory that creates buckles and shoe heels for luxury fashion houses, Rauwolf clutches are crafted entirely from polished or matte Plexiglas, and molded in graphic shapes that glimmer and glint like jewels in the hand.
For Fall 2013, Johannes spent untold hours working at her Italian plastics lab to make the bags both lighter and more spacious (the better to accommodate one's evening essentials). "Making the interiors large enough to hold the new iPhone was our biggest challenge!" she confided with a laugh. In other space-saving measures, Rauwolf embedded the label into the frame, which also houses a hidden magnetic closure that snaps shut with a very satisfying "thunk."
Other new-for-fall innovations include a fade-to-black treatment on the Hex clutch and a mesmerizing black/ gothic brown /silver starburst pattern on the Constantinople prism clutch. The brand new Brutalist bag features a super-thin slice of briar wood pressed between two sheets of dyed Plexiglas that's topped with contrasting Plexi "gems," while the Orbit clutch is bisected with a thick band of gold foil and finished with polished gold screws. Upping the chic ante even further: the formerly all-black frames are now dyed to match, giving each bag a heightened sense of refinement.
Currently available at Barneys and online at RauwolfNYC.com, the bags are specifically designed to "challenge the comfort zone."