One is not likely to say that Spanish handbag designer Ines Figaredo holds back. Her work clearly exhibits an outrageous sense of play and curiosity, pushing childlike ideas to the limit. And as playful as they are, they're certainly not made for children, rather they are made for women who feel free to experiment with their personal style while showing off a wicked sense of humor.
Of the many surreal themes Figaredo explores in her work (she thinks more like an artist than a typical accessory designer), my favorite are her WHO handbags. These classically shaped handbags cut in rich, textured and glossy leathers, many of which are finished with a variety of furs like ultra-long goat hair (that is not-so-subtly fashioned to look like a human head of hair), mink and rabbit, give these bags a comforting sense of softness amidst a rather jarring set (or random group) of glass eyeballs. These are not just any glass eyeballs either, mind you, they're made with human irises and set into 18K gold finished eye sockets. Yikes. Assuming you can digest that and move on, they are extremely fascinating to look at. The more you look at them, the more you will begin to feel like they're looking right back at ya.
In Figaredo's words the WHO bag is not just a bag, but one of performance, "The story of the Who bag is a story of a handbag you 'give birth to', non-existent with you. You will write its story. WHO will not walk behind you nor in front of you, but just beside you. You will give your Who bag a name, a nationality, a sex. It will be there sharing your experiences, your mood, your wishes, fears, longings...You will see through its enormous and always open eyes and people will catch your eye. If this connection is broken, WHO may die. You will understand."
While I may not completely understand the full intent of Figaredo's desires she places on her WHO bags (before purchasing you must register a passport for a WHO), I do understand the attachment women give to their handbags, and as a woman who owns many, I do love them all. Owning a WHO seems like a heavier proposition though, one that seems to carry the weight of an other worldly expectation, one that clearly sees beyond what is front and center, what is obvious. Now, only if the WHO had lips....