A passion for artisan clothes with a twist, a labor of love for their “métier”, and affection for each other are what J.P. & Mattie are all about.
Both born to textile families in Europe, Jean-Pierre Roditi and Mattie Ilel have grown up immersed in a world of color, texture, fabric and design in Paris and Istanbul in the 1960’s. After graduating from their respective design colleges,the two have been in working as fashion designers in Paris and Los Angeles for all the years in between then and now.
The J.P. & Mattie Collection is designed with a vintage Bohemian flair. All the fabrics used are from natural fibers. The clothes are hand dyed in root and vegetable dyes and dried out in the sun thus giving them their soft, slightly grayed and artisan look. The styling is timeless with little handcrafted details.
The love to travel to forlorn places, small villages throughout Southeast Asia - including all Indonesian islands is their biggest inspiration. They personally and very closely work with many different village artisans and get inspired by all the local talent. They design their collections with the same nomadic spirit that they enjoy and hope that this comes through in the clothing and accessories.
Recently, J.P & Mattie have added their collection of handcrafted leather bags, their exquisite Hill Tribe Bags that have quickly become their signature items, scarves and jewelry to complement their clothing.
The Hill tribe bags are made out of deconstructed ceremonial wear of certain Hill Tribes that live in the hills of Northern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia. These very intricately embroidered outfits are usually made for weddings, baby births etc. Some are lovingly embroidered by mothers and grandmothers for the bride, some are to wear themselves. J.P. & Mattie collect these garments, design the Hill Tribe bags and have the ladies from those tribes actually make the bags,incorporating some of the original Hill Tribe ornaments into the bags as well. (Little bells – pompoms – seeds – silver balls – strange little glass beads used as buttons etc).
Some of the Hill Tribes that they work with are the Karen, the Yao, the H’Mong, the Arkha and the Yisu. Every Hill Tribe puts their distinctive character into the bags. The Arka tribe use their silver color balls that they wear on their headress; the H'mong use their tiny embroidery designs, the Yao use their triangular designs. Every design has a reason, all the details have a reference, every bag carries the tradition and the soul of that tribe.
One of the most sought after Hill Tribe Bags is the Yahat Style, made out of Yao baby hats and baby carriers. The Yayoi and Yazoi bags have the little seeds that come from the flowers blooming in abundance every year in the hills where the Karen Tribe live. The hemp fabric that most of these Hill Tribe bags are made out of is usually harvested by the Hill Tribe women themselves, hand spun in wooden spools by them, hand woven in small wooden looms at their houses and hand dyed with root and vegetable dyes. You can literally see many Hill Tribe women with permanently indigo stained hands from these dyes...
According to a legend that many older H’Mong people still believe, their ancestors would not be able to recognize them when they die, unless they wear their traditional hand made clothing. The threads they weave, connect them to their spiritual world. Without them, they cannot hope for re-incarnation.
As fewer and fewer women continue to make and embroider these outfits, these finely embroidered pieces of art are becoming more and more rare. Many embroidered pieces are now sold as collectables framed and protected by glass to hang on walls.
J.P. & Mattie love the innate aesthetic of the Hill Tribe women and they try their best, in their small way, to keep this amazing art alive. It is wonderful to see that some of our buyers are so appreciative of them as well.
A nomadic artisan character links the clothes, the hand woven leather bags and what has now become their signature Hill Tribe bags. A certain “one of a kind” quality make each piece something that will become a favorite treasured piece for many years.