Duo crafts artful leather accessories

ONE man's garbage is another man's treasure, and if it's up to two local designers, that translates into some hip new accessories.

Victoria Ronco and her business partner Dave Kelly recently launched Divina Denuevo, Spanish for "divine again," a collection of leather bags and adornments that make use of reclaimed leather and antique hardware. The result is clutches, wallets, bags and cuffs that are both rustic and rich in their appearance.

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Although neither artisan has a background in design, Ronco, a North Vancouver native, says she has been making things since she was a kid.

"I started sewing my own clothes just because I'm quite petite and I couldn't find anything that would fit me," she explains.

When Kelly, who worked in the same office as Ronco, saw the bags she had created, he encouraged her to treat it as more than a hobby. He then started taking care of the business end of things before eventually joining in on the designing.

Since then it's been a whirlwind venture for the duo, which made a big splash at Vancouver Eco Fashion Week last month, taking home the excellence award for accessories. Their pieces were also used to style celebrity designer Jeff Garner's runway show.

"He had seen our designs and really liked them and he wanted them to accessorize his men's line," says Ronco.

"So we had about one week to design and create and pattern cut and finish an entire men's collection. . . . There were definitely a lot of sleepless nights."

The show was such a success that Garner took the entire collection to another one of his shows in Tennessee. And it forced the designers to go in a direction that they had already been pondering for a while.

Pieces include an oversized duffle bag "designed for the Don Drapers of the world," laptop bags, a briefcase and a portfolio carrier.

For women, one of the biggest sellers is the Mayfair, a petite leather clutch available in olive green and espresso brown ostrich print, featuring skeleton key closures that were found in antique shops and, in some cases, originated in a 19th century shipwreck.

"A lot of them are one of a kind," says Ronco. "It's hard to say what the bestseller is because people will pick up the one thing that exists and then it's never there again for anybody else."

Cuffs, keychains and leather-bound notebooks are also great stocking stuffers for the holidays.

For more information go to www.divina-denuevo.com.


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