Camila Alves Talks Muxo Handbags, New York Fashion Week, and Matthew McConaughey’s Purse
If you know Camila Alves, you probably recognize her as the Brazilian stunner who has graced the international covers of Maxim and Elle and appeared on more than a few stylish TV shows, including Bravo’s Shear Genius.
Oh, and she is also partnered with one of the most desirable men on the planet—actor Matthew McConaughey, with whom she has two children.
But Alves isn’t content to simply look gorgeous—she’s also creating beauty with her handbag line, Muxo, a self-described “art project” she started with her designer mom five years ago.
Since then, Muxo has developed a loyal following and earned an invitation to guest design a collection of affordable but luxurious bags for QVC.
Leading up to QVC’s New York Fashion Week red-carpet launch of the line and an appearance in The Heart Truth's Red Dress runway show, the amiable Alves spoke to FashionEtc about her growing handbag empire, why she doesn’t follow trends, and how she’s dealing with her fear of the New York City weather.
Photo courtesy of QVC
One of Camila Alves’s Muxo for QVC bag designs.
Let’s talk about Muxo. Why did you start the line?
My mom and I started it about five years ago—it’s always been just the two of us. I’d been wanting to explore design, and I also wanted to create something for my mom. She’s extremely talented and has three degrees in design from Brazil. Once she moved to California, I wanted to help her find an outlet to use that talent and turn it into income. That’s part of our culture: You help out your family!
What made you want to explore design?
All my handbags would fall apart. I obviously traveled a lot as a model and would shove everything into my purse—and it would always break at the airport. I thought, All right, I’m going to see if I can make my own bag! Something strong and attractive, durable but fashionable; most important, something different. So we made a prototype.
How did it turn out?
At first I wasn't crazy about it. But things evolved quickly; friends helped us out, gave us input, and I started carrying them around. People noticed the bags and word spread, friend to friend. Suddenly a business seemed possible.
We grew slowly, because we wanted everything to be hand made. We literally were doing it in our garage! Now we have some people help with parts of production, but it’s still very hands-on. For example, we have a special finish we put on the bags—only my mom and I know how to do it!
Where is the line sold?
Right now, we’re selling it online exclusively because the response has been so good. There’s been plenty of interest from boutiques, though, so we may end up carrying them in various stores. And of course, we created the special line for QVC.
How did that collaboration develop?
We've been talking about doing a lower-priced line for a while. Our bags go from $400 to $2,000, usually. Many of our customers send us personal e-mails—and I read and save them all! They’d tell us how much they love the bags but would love if we also could offer something a bit more affordable … and the idea began to take shape. There's only so low we can go, though, because it’s still mainly hand made. When QVC approached us, it was the perfect opportunity to make it possible.
What is unique about the QVC line?
We kept the quality high but the prices attainable, which is hard to do. There’s hand-stitching on the bags—I didn’t want to compromise on that or the leather that we chose, which is amazing [and] so buttery! Its texture will actually get better with time. We put a beautiful linen lining in too, which is new for Muxo. Women will be proud to carry these bags—they are very unique.
What are some of your personal favorite Muxo styles?
I love the hybrid cross-body styles because they allow for movement. I want to feel free, and I think other women do too. By day you can wear them on your shoulder and you can fit a computer, a change of clothes, maybe some shoes in the bag. At night it can be worn as a discreet cross-body style. There’s a particular white handbag with black stitching—the Amazonas bag—that is so sophisticated and elegant. It’s one of my favorites from the QVC line.
Has becoming a mother changed your own handbag needs?
I need more room! I carry more things now that I carry a kid with me. But I try to keep it simple—which I have always tried to do.
Any plans to expand the Muxo brand in the future?
We may do some jewelry and some shoes. And I’m thinking of maybe doing a children’s line.
You have handbags for men in the main Muxo line. Does Matthew ever carry your bags?
He used to! And he always gives me feedback.
Do you follow trends?
No, I don’t at all. In fact, I think that's why our product is so unique—because I’m unaware of what everyone else is doing and focus on what I like. Trends are cool but fashion is best when you wear what works for you.
What’s an item you bought recently that you love?
I mainly shop when I travel. I really love a white crochet dress I bought in Brazil. I love the handcrafted designs in South America—something we try to incorporate for Muxo.
Do you and your mother share similar style?
No, actually. She's pretty eccentric and funky, and I’m pretty classic. Our personal styles are so different but we balance each other out when we design together—it works.
I’m guessing you prefer dressing for a warm climate. Did I mention New York City has become Antarctica?
[Laughs] I hate the cold. The winter scares me. I used to live in NYC, so I know the weather well—and I know this year is especially terrible. I need the sun—for my own good health! Actually, I probably should start looking for the perfect coat to wear to New York Fashion Week … I’m going to try to go to a few shows, if I have time. I haven’t been to one since Dolce & Gabbana in Milan last season, so I’m excited!
Muxo by Camila Alves is scheduled to launch Friday, February 11, at 10 p.m. E.T. during QVC’s presentation of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week–Live from New York.