Handcrafted minaudieres are the latest luxury accessory | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

With the influx of fast fashion, people committed to quality design are seeking unique goods made of the best material and with a specific kind of construction. They are looking beyond quantity. Such was the case with partners Celine Gabriel and Andrea Martel.

The design duo of Gabriel*Martel will be unveiling their impeccably handcrafted bag collection in an exclusive and intimate gathering at Privé Luxury Club at the Fort Strip on Nov. 3.

When they came out with their premiere collection “Wanderlust,” 12 beautiful handcrafted minaudieres made of various materials from cracked egg shells and stingray, to  mother-of-pearl and wood, most of the bags were actually bought by friends even before the actual launch, so it was necessary  to create a whole new collection for their debut.

They are not wasting their time on entry-level luxury. In fact, the collection is named “Tocco di Lusso,” a touch of luxury, in Italian. “Instead of catering to a market, we’d rather create something and create a market for it,” says Gabriel.

“It might even be a smaller market, but it will be a particular type of lady who will buy it, just because it appeals to their senses,” Martel adds. “We are not looking to appeal to the masses.”

But the duo reassures that it won’t be too expensive, as they are pricing the pieces competitively.

The collection explores a new territory with exotic skins. “Because that’s what Andy and I also really like. We like our skins,” says Gabriel. They’ve included ostrich leather as well, aside from the signature shells, stingray, and wood. They also have brass minaudieres dipped in 20-karat gold. Design-wise, expect the collection to be more intricate and with more vibrant splash of colors.

“Materials you wouldn’t think of putting together,” says Martel.

Not just about price

Gabriel*Martel DNA signifies “artistic, beautiful and luxurious.” According to Gabriel, these are the attributes they look for when they purchase something, and their attitude towards life in general.

“Luxury doesn’t have to be about price,” Martel is quick to point out. Luxury can also be color—unusual use of color, aside from black, is a luxury in itself because one veers away from safe black.

To showcase their bags, they’ve asked a watercolor artist to render their bags in artworks, in postcard sizes. They wanted to portray the imagery and feel of what they wanted to project with the brand.

The beautiful illustrations depict the kind of women who will wear their bags. There is an artwork of a fashionista, wearing the rectangular clutch made of ebony macassar and black shagreen sides, while wearing  cut-off shorts and a tank.

Another is a romantic kind of woman, carrying a rectangular clutch in gunmetal stone, while another, an elegant woman, sports the “Marrakesh,” a semi-square clutch with eggshell inlay. It is said to be their bestseller; Anne Curtis allegedly  owns one.

The way Gabriel*Martel describe the women who wear their bags might just make you want to be one of them: “Someone who appreciates beauty. They understand luxury, they understand quality before quantity,” Gabriel states.

“They are fun and they are not afraid to experiment,” Martel adds. “We want that kind of woman, who is not confined by an ideology or  what is popular,” says Martel.

They want these women to wear the bags depending on how they feel, how they look at the particular moment in time, whenever they want.


Just how did the two ladies conjure these wonderful minaudieres when they admittedly have zero bag-design education? Gabriel has been in PR for almost a decade, while Martel is proprietress of Princess Peacock, an online store.

“Oh my gosh! Just to give you an example,” says Gabriel,  showing us  doodles that look like kids’ sketches. “This is what makes it exciting and fun for us, and also challenging.”

What they lack through education, they make up for with instincts and a “game on” attitude. They know specifically what they want from a bag.  After a year of thorough research, of finding the right materials, and of immersing themselves in different manufacturers, they came out pushing the boundaries for the bag design.

“This is how you should do it,” recalls Gabriel of what manufacturers would normally tell them. “We tell them, ‘No, this is how we want it to be.’”

“People say, ‘if there’s a will, there’s a way,’” explains Martel. “For us, if there’s a way, there’s an even better way of doing things. We would never take no for an answer.”

They were constantly on the lookout for the best, and were very particular with design.

For one thing, they didn’t scrimp on the lining,  high quality suede from Germany. Hinges and locks are seamlessly integrated. The packaging comes in a sturdy box, lined with stingray-like material. They don’t have a dust bag, since they haven’t found the right one. They simply didn’t want to settle for what was available.

They are also very much into details. In the “Manarola” they’ve laser-etched their favorite love poems on rectangular freshwater clam minaudieres—one from Pablo Neruda, another from Angela Manalang-Gloria. They say brides can even have their own love poems customized.

Gabriel*Martel is stamped with playfulness and spontaneity of design. It has an uncompromising attitude on quality and craftsmanship—bags done the right way.