Sunday, November 8, 2009

Limon Piel Handbags Carry a Message of Goodwill

In Colombia’s remote highlands, there is a child who is receiving medical attention for the first time. Their family and friends also get the care they need thanks to Colombia Missions, a volunteer medical program akin to Doctors Without Borders. A team of American physicians and non-medical volunteers spend six days in communities throughout the year treating everything that is requested.

Three years ago Baltimore native Lisa Garrett joined a team and met Liliana Montero, a local artisan. Garrett returned home sporting one of Montero’s handcrafted bags and hatched a plan that would support the medical missions and alleviate the local artisans out of poverty.

Limon Piel International was born.

Garrett began to import Montero’s bag and sells primarily online and specialty boutiques. Each collection is named after an Indian tribe whose history is recreated through delicate fabrications. The Shinye Collection, for example, pays homage to tradition enriched by bold colors (deep reds and brown and bright lime green – perhaps, revealing their sense of humor) and embellishments (ancestral guanga weavings). Retailing between $200 - $400, proceeds from the bags go to the medical missions.

While shopping in Old Town Alexandria, Garrett stopped by Hysteria and shared the story of Limon Piel Handbags. Manager Alicia McCaslin could not say no to the idea of hosting a trunk show.

Hysteria, as many know, offers contemporary high fashion to Washington’s tastemakers. So, how would a bohemian-natured aesthetic fare alongside wares by Trina Turk, Diane vonFurstenberg, and Nanette Lepore?

“The handbags appeal to the woman who wants something different,” McCaslin said. “But the bags themselves are simply beautifully made and have a great story.

“Fashion should make people feel good about themselves but also aware,” she continued. “And we like that Limon Piel gives back to the community.”

Handbags from the trunk show are still available at Hysteria or visit the Limon Piel Web site. To learn more about the missions, go to Colombia Mission.

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