by Maddy Zollo Rusbosin | September 17, 2018

Made in FLA: Skin is In

A Miami accessories designer gives new meaning to upscale luxury with her python bags


Carmen fanny pack in bluish gray with strap; Photography by Ximena Kavalekas

While visiting a friend who owns a tannery and leather goods factory in Florence, Italy, Ximena Kavalekas had an idea she couldn’t ignore. She would design handbags using the skin of pythons, the beautiful yet invasive reptiles overwhelming the Everglades back in her home state. Creating the designs came naturally to Kavalekas, who has a background in the fashion industry. She sold the first bags to parents from her children’s Miami school, and they scooped them up as quickly as she could make them.

Ximena Kavalekas and Margherita Missoni; Photography by Weston Wells

The handcrafted line of small bags enjoyed a warm welcome in the international fashion world thanks to their luxe materials, chic silhouettes and quality. The bags would soon become hot items on luxury retail sites like Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi. Most recently, Kavalekas collaborated with Margherita Missoni in launching a limited-edition collection of her iconic box bag, Mandolin 2.0, adorned with floral details in vibrant colors.

The verve of her adopted home can be seen and felt throughout Kavalekas’s designs. “Miami is a melting pot of multiple cultures. You find people from different parts of the world who call Miami home. The eclectic and international environment and Miamians inspire me,” says the Ecuadorian-born Kavalekas. “Some bags are named after close Miami friends from Ecuador to Greece. You can find some visual references also through a palette of pastel colors related to the Art Deco buildings in Miami Beach.”