Whilst most 21 year olds are spending their final year of university staggering somewhere between lectures and dingy student bars, Marina Raphael had other ideas. She was busy building her sustainable, eponymously named bag collection.
Now back in Athens, after her studies in London, Marina Raphael’s bags have been carried by discerning fashion influencers such as Giovanna Englebert and Anna Vitiello. Made by local craftsmen in Florence, the bags have a timelessness and clean design. They ‘have a sense of modernity…the bag structures are strong, architectural and impactful’, Marina says.
With the element of timelessness at the heart of her designs, sustainability is at the core of the brand: ‘my recent collaboration with Maria Fernanda Hernandez Franco, Head of Sustainable Projects and Global Communications of LuisaViaRoma, is one of my favourites, as we worked closely together, to create handbags that embody our shared love of sustainable fashion’, Marina adds.
Marina Raphael bags bring a touch of glamour to the everyday, hand-finished with a smattering of Swarovski crystals- an ode to her heritage as a descendent of the Swarovski family dynasty. ‘I am very fortunate to be part of such a special family’, she says, ‘growing up around many successful entrepreneurs. But the most important thing that inspires my work is the strong women in my family. Having such incredible role models really fuelled me to create a brand that pays tribute to their confidence and strength.’
With the element of timelessness at the heart of her designs, sustainability is at the core of the brand: ‘my recent collaboration with Maria Fernanda Hernandez Franco, Head of Sustainable Projects and Global Communications of LuisaViaRoma, is one of my favourites, as we worked closely together, to create handbags that embody our shared love of sustainable fashion’, Marina says.
Whilst her trips to Florence are jam-packed with factory visits, Marina has had plenty of opportunities to travel. ‘I believe that travelling is one of the greatest gifts, as you are offered the chance to experience, and spend time in surroundings learning about different cultures. Travelling really sparks my love for exploration, and has been the source of inspiration for many of my collections.’
So, what’s next for the emerging designer? With party season about to enter full swing, her latest collaboration with her dear friend Evangelie Smyrniotaki (@StyleHeroine) has just launched. With the aim to create the ultimate party bag, as the antidote to our working from home wardrobes, the collaboration contains two fully crystal embellished micro bags, ‘with over 5,000 carefully placed Swarovski crystals!’, Marina adds.
Equipped with her cashmere sweater and one of her sleek totes, we delve into Marina Raphael’s travel psyche.
What is the first trip you remember taking?
The first trip I remember was when I was about 5 years old. I was travelling with my parents to visit my grandma in Austria. Although I was very young, I distinctly remember that it resembled a winter wonderland. The whole town was full of snow and almost felt like a real life fairy tale!
What’s been your most memorable trip and why?
It has to be Mexico, when I went to visit Eduardo Serio, the founder of the Black Jaguar-White Tiger foundation. It was by far the most unique experience and so heartwarming to see Eduardo’s dedication to the animals, as well as the lengths the whole foundation goes to, to take care of them. Ever since that trip, Eduardo and I have remained close friends, and have even worked together on a special collection of handmade bracelets, where all the proceeds go to the Black Jaguar-White Tiger foundation.
Where or what is the escape?
It would definitely be our home in the Peloponnese, Portoheli. It’s only a few hours away from Athens, and is the perfect getaway. The house is located by the sea and there are many beautiful beaches nearby which you can visit. I believe that the reason I love spending time there is because the sound of the sea really calms me.
View this post on Instagram
If you could go anywhere tomorrow it would be…
My top bucket list destination is…
What’s your idea of a luxury holiday?
My ideal luxury holiday is an escape to the Maldives. Whenever I have the opportunity to travel there, I like to go swimming in their beautiful crystal clear waters for hours, and enjoy taking long walks, barefoot, on the white sand.
Where do you get your holiday inspiration?
Whenever I choose a holiday destination, I start by thinking of all the landmarks that I would love to explore up close. For example, my desire to visit the Taj Mahal lead me on my trip to India, while the Victoria Waterfalls sparked my enthusiasm to embark on a trip to Zambia and Zimbabwe.
If you could sit next to anyone – dead or alive – on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
I would love to be sitting next to my grandma. She is such an inspiration to me, and because she lives in Austria, I don’t get the chance to see her all the time. She is my fashion icon as much as my role model, so being able to talk to her and hear her life stories during a long-haul flight would be my favourite thing in the world.
What is your favourite hotel?
The Ritz Paris. It is perhaps one of the most elegant hotels I have seen with its beautiful, timeless, Belle Époque decor. We are very honoured to have our bags featured in their iconic boutique.
What’s on your travel playlist?
Oh, 80’s music! I am such of fan of that musical era, that I have probably downloaded more than 10 different playlists on Spotify. ABBA all the way!
How do you switch off?
I love to go on hikes in the mountains with my dogs. Not only do I get my daily dose of exercise, but I also clear my mind with nature’s serenity.
What is your number one packing tip?
Compartmentalise all your items using pouches or bags. Not only does this keep things neat and tidy, it helps you fit more inside your suitcase- something that is most useful when you are an over-packer like me!
Who is your favourite travel companion?
View this post on Instagram
What is your most treasured purchase from your travels?
A necklace made from the Maasai Mara tribe in Kenya. This piece is so special to me not only because it is handmade, but because every purchase helps support the Maasai Mara community.
View this post on Instagram
What are your jet lag recovery tips?
Set your watch to the time of your destination once you get on the plane. Try using the local time of your destination as your new guide to when you should sleep
Use Melatonin for shorter trips. I use it mostly when I have to travel to New York for just a few days, and don’t have enough time to adjust naturally to the new time zone.
Where is home and what are your must-do’s for any tourists visiting?
What item of clothing/accessory is a suitcase stalwart?
First thing that comes to your mind?
Laptop and headphones.
Packing: roll or fold?
Inflight book or inflight film?
Music or podcasts?
Time killer on a long-haul flight?
Work! That sounds boring but being able to disconnect from the rest of the things going on, really helps me focus on all the tasks I have at hand. And catching up on the sleep I have missed, especially during fashion weeks.
Holiday tipple of choice?
Best shopping gem found abroad?
A handmade scarf from India.
Beach or City Break?
Ultimate holiday treat?
Melomakarona (a traditional holiday Greek dessert).