For over 600 years, Cypriot craftswomen have made tablecloths in Lefkaritiko lace and Fythkiotiko fabric, handweaving and hand-embroidering intricate patterns in myriad shapes and shades. Transferring these traditional techniques onto a range of very 21st-century clutches is Retrovi, a treasure trove of vivid artisan-made bags that makes for some visually pleasing January web browsing.
Created by Cypriot co-founders Myrna Demetriou Pattichis and Myrto Fereou, the one-of-a-kind clutches come in clean, contemporary shapes and conjure up summer-holiday vibes and azure-blue skies. The Berengaria (from €464) – a neat bag (28cm x 16cm) with a magnetic closure that comes in both lace and woven variations – is named after a 12th-century queen of Cyprus and is available in a plethora of appealing patterns and shades, such as Fythkiotiko peratikoudin, which weaves red, purple, fuchsia and metallic turquoise yarns into diamond shapes over a silk-blend lining in red and purple.
Other designs also allude to Cyprus’s royal past, including Alice of Champagne, who has inspired a slightly larger design (36cm x 17cm, €530) with a concertinaed edge, and Caterina Cornaro, whose name is given to a taller clutch (29cm x 20cm, €530). And the bags’ popularity is spreading not just online, but also across the southern Mediterranean, with many Retrovi designs available at the sleek Amanzoe resort on Greece’s Peloponnese.