Bote A Mano brings together Eastern opulence and European craftsmanship
Bote A Mano is far more than just a footwear label. It’s essentially a labour of love — one that transcends continents, countries, cultures and boundaries. The coming together of Italian leather and vibrant handcrafted fabrics sourced from the East, the brand is the brainchild of Iranian native Niloufar Sassani and her husband Edoardo Bortolato, from Italy. “When we started dating in 2012, Edoardo had very little knowledge of the East let alone Iran. The more I exposed him to my culture, the more fascinated he was. I, on the other hand, had a fair idea of Europe but it’s so different being introduced to a country through a native,” says Sassani, who moved to Switzerland at 16 and later to Paris to complete her education.
Nothing represents the essence of the brand more than its name — ‘Bote’ is Farsi for ‘paisley’, while ‘A Mano’, is Italian for ‘made by hand’. “Through the brand, we want to unite people, blend techniques, while encouraging dialogue, love and appreciation among cultures of the East and the West, going beyond colour, religion and geography,” shares Sassani, who also doubles up as the model for her exquisite pieces. The duo identified three sources from where they would get their raw material — Italy for leather and craftsmanship, Iran for its geometric art and architecture (which is the main inspiration for the designs) and the ancient Silk Road, along which beautiful fabrics are created.
“So we embarked on a journey to Yazd, a city in central Iran, to find the weavers of the Termeh textile, to Kashan, 150 miles south of Tehran, to meet with Ikat weavers, to Varanasi to work with brocade weavers and to the mountains of Bhutan to source beautiful striped cotton fabrics woven by Bhutanese women,” reveals the designer.
Their inaugural collection shines the spotlight on Indian textile weavers from Varanasi. Making their way to the heart of Varanasi to have access to the finest handwoven brocades, the duo ended up being stationed there for two weeks. “We worked with local weavers to bring back two historical patterns, floral and geometrical, which became popular in the 13th century. These represent a fascinating fusion of Indian, Mongolian and Persian sensibilities,” explains Sassani. While the choices are limited, one can also argue that perfection doesn’t come in large numbers. Midnight in Banaras — a ballet flat with a deep blue and gold brocade work is great for an evening out. Lilian of Banaras, on the other hand, is a lovely red and gold affair, which is versatile and can be worn for a lunch or dinner date.
Once the fabrics are ready, they are shipped to Civitanova Marche in Italy, the shoe making capital of the country. Next in the pipeline for Bote A Mano is a line of flats and pumps that will employ weaves from Yazd and Varanasi.
Rs 13,145 upwards (approximately). Details: bote-a-mano.com
— Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo