Her Name Was Rio . . .

31 Aug

There's more to Rio than this

Oh Rio. Most people who visit Brazil flock to this city for its beaches, its iconic architecture (Big Jesus, anyone?), and its mix of nature and modern technology (they’ve got a forest and a subway a few kilometers away from each other).

To me, it’s a bit like one big Brazilian Disneyworld (or Universal Studios around the more rough, favela-accented parts), but it definitely has its less kitschy, more hidden treasures as well. One of them happens to be what Wallpaper Magazine considers one of the MUST SEE spots in Brazil: Muggia.

I wrote about Muggia about little over a year ago after having bought one of their bags in Sao Paulo (they sell their wares in boutiques and stores throughout Brazil and Europe) at the Galeria Melissa (the Clockwork Orange meets Star Trek-esque hub for all things related to Melissa shoes) on Oscar Freire in Sao Paulo. It was love at first sight, and I knew I’d have to hunt them down if I ever happened to be in Rio.

Luckily, I had the opportunity to pay the atelier a visit last week . . .

When I refer to it as a hidden gem, I mean that literally and figuratively. It’s on a main street, but tucked away in a gated community of special shops and boutiques on Rua Real Grandeza. After passing a few other pastel, stucco apartments  (the home of other boutiques), I found myself at numero 8. There was just a small sign outside on the ground, with “Muggia” scribbled in chalk. I rang the doorbell, frightened for a moment that it might be closed, but luckily someone answered and let me up.

Entering Muggia was a bit surreal, to be honest, because there was so much charm in such a small space. Once I walked through the wooden double doors at the front, I was greeted by a set of paintings, one of which happened to have the same print as the bag I had purchased last year. I walked up a curvy staircase to find mere silence. “Oi?” I asked, still wondering if all of this was my imagination. Had a ghost let me in? I had a few seconds to linger before being met by a young woman with wavy brown hair in a purple flutter-sleeved top and later a petite blonde with a tattoo in French running along the inner side of her forearm. There were bags, wallets, wristlets, and belt purses along the wall on hooks of various sizes, larger travel-sized bags seated in chairs as if awaiting a long journey themselves, and an accessories table covered with delicate bows, headbands, and hammered metal necklaces.

The shop was a unique mix of raw and delicate, metals with curled lace, as if one of their bags had unraveled and turned into a store. The women who worked there informed me that all the painted bags, despite their varied shapes and sizes, all were the work of the same artist (the same man who had painted my bag) and that each season, the print/art changed. The pieces were mixed media pieces of their own, each purse being made of a mix of canvas/denim, cotton,  leather (raw cuts), suede, and metals. Beyond the purses, there was also a wall of clothes, most of them drape-y, raw silk and cotton pieces perfect for the humid Rio weather.

While there, I had the privileged opportunity to see some of the classic bags from previous seasons and the designs for the new line, which were hidden away in a back room and solely served as preview pieces for buyers. I felt a bit like I had been invited into someone’s home, tasted her food, and given a quick glimpse at a top secret recipe. I walked away with an adorable black and white painted bag from this season, and I’ll be back in Brazil in the spring, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll have a chance to take home one of the pieces from the new season as well.

If you are in Rio anytime soon and you like one-of-a-kind accessories and clothes, take my advice and do not miss out on Muggia.

Muggia is located at Rua Real Grandeza, 182, casa 8 in the Botafogo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.

– Retail DJ

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