Thomas IV

Lia Cinquegrano of Thomas IV

Lia Cinquegrano of Thomas IV

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in Sarasota, FL along the gulf coast. From 2nd grade through 12th grade I attended a pretty liberal, small school that allowed its students to excel in whichever discipline suited them.  I took several art classes including print-making photography, pottery, figure drawing and painting, knowing I was building my portfolio in preparation for art school.  I attended RISD from 2001-2005. My family is from Providence so I always knew that I wanted to go to that school to study apparel design. I live in Rand’s old apartment on Orchard and Canal right across from the bar Sweet Paradise and I have a workspace in Greenpoint on West St. I currently work for Nanette Lepore and have for the past 5 years.  During the summer of 2004 I interned with Tess Giberon.

What makes a great bag?
Sometimes design is a difficult process, but it is always a process. I rarely design something once and feel as though it is finished or looks right.  I feel good about a design when the functional parts are working harmoniously with the design elements and when the general silhouette feel fresh and has a fun sense of character (however much character an accessory can have). And it has to feel “me”; I have to feel as thought I really want it, want to wear it, and would spend money on it.

What prompted you to start you own line? What void do you see Thomas IV filling in the handbag market?
When I started working in my first studio space in St. Cecilias I naturally began making bags. When I shopped the contemporary market, or even the luxury market, I felt as though all of the bags offered were expensive and fancy.  I wanted to make an expensive, but casual bag–I knew it would be expensive because I wanted to use local factories and maintain a relationship with the people executing my designs.  Thomas IV bags are bright, colorful, use mixed media, and integrate the functional and essential elements of a handbag in an interesting and hopefully less conventional way.  I am not a huge fan of hardware–which to me ends up making a handbag look fancy and typical–so I try to use as little of it as possible, forcing myself to come up with new ways of attaching straps and handles, or integrating the closure of a bag.

Where do you source your fabrics?
The Guatemalan fabrics I have used are from a women works with weavers in Guatemala. The more graphic fabrics are from fabric stores.

Who, besides yourself, makes great handbags?
I like Wendy Nichol; I liked Katherine Fleming when I first saw her bags; I like the sense of humor and quirkiness of Roberta di Camerino; for a more streamlined, clean look I like Florian Denicourt.

What is markedly different about your fall season from your spring?
The fall palette is based on muted primary colors and graphic fabrications. The buck style carries over from Spring and the new Marisa small bag is great because it can be worn cross-body or held by shorter handles. I really like that bag: It is not too small and I like how the straps are attached.

Besides a great handbag, what are your other must-have accessories worth an investment?
Shoes! I am ok with paying a lot for shoes.

Favorite fall activities in the city?
Playing tennis, which I’ve already started doing, eating fall foods, enjoying the sound of the leaves rustling. Dressing up for Halloween and making Turkey dinner with friends for Thanksgiving. Checking out whats next in the local art scene, making pies and picking apples. Potlucks.

What’s next?
I want to expand and eventually offer shoes as well.