Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Berluti
'Illusion Patina' on the 'Alessandro' lace-ups
'Illusion Patina' on 'Unjour' and 'Deux Jours' bags
'Illusion Patina' on the 'Andy' loafers
'Illusion Patina' on the 'Formula 1004' trolley luggage and 'Time-Off' backpack
Initials can be also be added onto the 'Illusion Patina'

Even if you don’t know how much a slab of alligator leather costs, you’d know it is still a decent sum of greens. Its place in the fashion and luxury universe is perhaps only usurped by even rarer versions (albino?) that animal-loving groups would be writing us numerous letters about to halt its promo. But let’s face it, quality leather of the alligator variety – and even its crocodile cousins – simply look good and its appeal as a fashion power move and a status symbol has never waned. Even before luxury logos were worn as badges of honour, flexing alligator leather as part of a bag, shoe or belt was a universally understood money move (and it still is). And the reason faux alligator leather continues to exist is because not everyone has the means of getting the real deal. All is going to change in 2019 because today’s version of Berluti – under the creative direction of Kris Van Assche – understands this demand which is the reason for its timely introduction of an updated technique called Illusion Patina that hopes to bridge the gap between art and reality. And it could prove to be the seminal work of Berluti’s know-how as well as altering the fashion future of faux alligator leather for good. Based on its three decade-old foundation in giving calfskin leather a unique and exotic hand-painted tone, skilled Berluti artisans are now offering to hand-paint these exotic alligator scales onto its leather goods. Such is the high-level of workmanship here that the patterns are texturised and made to be three-dimensional to the touch, which a printed version cannot achieve. In Berluti’s case, it’s never a simple one-step formula in babying its leather and this technique is a case in point. The secret to Illusion Patina shares a street artist’s go-to operating tool: a stencil. A pattern of the alligator scales has already been cut out to fit the proportions of the calfskin leather item you have in mind. Berluti offers it on just about most of its staple wares like its Time-off backpack, Itauba Scritto wallet, and Andy loafers. (You’ve got to purchase a new item as Berluti isn’t offering to repurpose your old Berluti buys – yet.) Then, the colourist who is based in your country of purchase has been taught to massage the pigments, dies, and essential oils in-between the stencilled areas in order to dramatize its appearance and personalise it to the wearer’s taste. Like a Da Vinci on a mural, the colourist also uses tools such as brushes and sponges to get the ideal result that would explain the man hours needed to achieve it. In addition, there is also an option to hot-stamp the owner’s initials on the hand-painted finish. This entire bespoke process takes between two to four weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the item. And unlike alligator leather (or the reptile’s bite), it won’t cost you an arm and a leg – just an extra US$130 to US$400 for the add-on.


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