Marie Antoinette Would Love This Weekend Max Mara Bag

Seated on a banquette at Le Meurice hotel in Paris and sporting a white linen suit, Nicola Gerber Maramotti picked up her pink lace Pasticcino clutch and gave it a little hug.

“You take it with you like a pet,” she said of the squishy, pouch-shaped design from the Weekend Max Mara line that now boasts its own annual world tour, which alighted in Paris and Versailles this week. “It’s something that evokes memories, but it’s also fun, modern and fashion.”

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Named after the Italian word for “small pastry” and evocative of family gatherings, the Pasticcino pouch was first introduced in 2016 and became a hit.

“One of the most searched bags on the internet,” according to Maramotti, part of the family that owns Max Mara Group.

Indeed, she noted some clients are fervent collectors, submitting photos of themselves surrounded by dozens of the colorful clutch, which comes in a range of different materials, including leather, cotton chintz and sequins.

A gaggle of Max Mara executives swept into France this week, with editors, VIPs and influencers in tow, to celebrate the second leg of its itinerant project and unveil the dainty Hommage à la France Pasticcino.

“Pretty Little Liars” actress Lucy Hale and model Tina Kunakey were among those given a private visit of the hamlet built for Marie Antoinette at the Château de Versailles, and served lunch at Alain Ducasse’s Le Grand Contrôle restaurant.

Lucy Hale
Lucy Hale

Marie Antoinette — especially the extravagant, stylized portrayal of the French queen painted by director Sofia Coppola in her 2006 film — informed the macaron colors and glossy ball clasps of the latest limited-edition Pasticcino.

Seeking to exalt rare know-how for the project, the Weekend Max Mara design studio settled on a storied 19th-century maker of Leavers lace, Dentelles André Laude, and Manufacture des Emaux de Longwy 1798, a historical ceramics house capable of realizing the high-gloss closure orbs.

André Laude wove 1,700 meters of the guipure lace, while Emaux de Longwy produced about 10,000 “pearls” by hand, each requiring three firings over a process that takes 15 days.

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Leavers lace being woven on looms at Dentelles André Laude in Caudry, France.

At a welcome dinner Wednesday night at Caviar Kaspia, the glossy pearls held seating cards for the likes of designer Gilles Dufour, star ballet dancer Guillaume Diop of the Paris Opera, and writer Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni.

Maramotti noted that collaborating with artisans “is very connected with our DNA. We have a long history of pattern-making, for example.”

The inaugural “world tour” bag last May paid homage to Venice, the Modello Venezia crafted with Fortuny textiles and Murano glass beads.

Launched in 1983 as a casual collection well suited to traveling, Weekend Max Mara has evolved into a comprehensive line of ready-to-wear and accessories. Maramotti noted the Pasticcino flattens easily for packing, which is why she took one for a recent sojourn in Bhutan.

Weekend Max Mara counts more than 250 freestanding stores in the world, with a Vienna boutique and a second London location recently added as part of a European expansion push.

In France, Weekend Max Mara counts one company-owned store, 14 franchises and corners in Printemps, Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marché.

The “world tour” Pasticcino bags retail for about 600 euros, roughly double the opening price for the popular model. Small versions start at about 219 euros in velvet or raffia.

To spotlight the Hommage à la France, Weekend Max Mara planned a social-media campaign and activations in Max Mara boutiques and a couple of Paris bakeries, too.

Tina Kunakey at Versailes.
Tina Kunakey at Versailes.

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