Mario Gamundi-Houellemont

Fashion Product

Thesis Statement

All my life I have been connected to islands. My father’s side of the family comes from the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. My mother’s side of the family comes from the Dominican Republic and smaller islands across the Caribbean. Even now, I live on the island of Manhattan. Island cultures have shaped my identity, as an individual as well as a designer. For my thesis, I want to explore the intersections between my family lineage and island traditions.
This collection is named Isleño, which means islander in the main language of both the Dominican Republic and Mallorca. Taking inspiration from pre-colonized objects and artisanal craft, I created a collection of handbags that is timeless but culturally significant. With our society leaning more and more towards the virtual, I want to explore the complete opposite, reminding the consumer that authenticity and tangibility is more important than artificiality.
Image: Pottery is an artisan craft that is prevalent in both Mallorca and the Dominican Republic. The rounded organic shapes of traditional handmade earthenware bowls and plates are the inspiration for the silhouettes of this collection. These bags, with their circular shape, are designed to be layered and mixed and matched.
Image: The “Trigonolito” is an iconic figure of the Dominican Taíno lexicon, planted amongst the crops as an offering to the gods to ensure a bountiful harvest. Crafted out of clay or carved out of limestone, they feature the face of the God of the Yucca Plant and the Sea, Yocatu Vaguada Maorocoti. The three points of the stone symbolize the three powers of this particular god: fertility, the sea and the Yucca plant, a staple food of the people, used to make cassava. My collection of bags  is constructed using three pattern pieces that intersect at a single point. It is reminiscent of the Trigonolito with its three points, as well as serving as a visual metaphor for the three islands that shaped me. Dominican Republic, Mallorca and Manhattan come together at a single point: me.
Image: This collection is divided into three color ways, one for each island that I want to represent.The collection is made out of  pebbled leather, which gives the bags a nice weight while also allowing for softness and fluidity in the construction.  The texture is also reminiscent of the cobblestone streets in my family’s hometown of Deìa, Mallorca. They feature oversized sea glass baubles as reminder of the water all around us. Each bag also features a single blue ceramic bead, serving as a brand identifier and a reminder of the collection’s concept overall.
Image: Cala Deìa, Mallorca
Image: The "Mediterraneo" colorway is inspired by the rich red clay of Mallorca. Peach sea glass reflects the terracotta tiles of the roofs, accented by purple-speckled beads reminiscent of the violet candies my aunts would bring me as a child.
Image: Playa Macao, Dominican Republic
Image: The "Caribeño" colorway is inspired by the Dominican Republic. Shades of blue were picked to represent the many dimensions of the ocean. A stormy blue-gray leather is accented with sand colored details. Aquamarine and sapphire sea glass frame the speckled glaze of the ceramic bead.
Image: Montauk, New York
Image: The "Atlántico" colorway is inspired by the beach. The sprawling sandy dunes of The Hamptons are represented in this tonal beige colorway. The sage green and seafoam glass offers visual contrast while still tying into the nautical theme.
Image: The Saona Visor: Named for the largest island off the coast of the Dominican Republic. This oversized visor is beaded with Larimar, a volcanic gem found only in the Dominican Republic. The stones form a wave, accented by Mallorca’s pearls as the sea foam against the jute sand.
Image: The Deìa Weekender: An oversized crossbody with an adjustable, extra wide inverted braid strap and beaded tassel on the end. The ceramic button closure provides accessibility without having to take the bag off. The signature collapsible gusset construction makes this bag easy to fold and pack in your suitcase.
Image: The Macao Hobo Bag: A quintessential boho chic staple. The braided tassel functions as an added style element while also serving as a closure. The  contrast leather wrap handle is added for extra comfort to the wearer.  Available in two sizes and color ways.

The Magaluf Handbag: These monochromatic handbags feature dual leather braids which hang down on either side, giving them fluidity and movement when walking. The beaded tassels each correspond to their colorways. They are designed to be handheld, with built-in handles.

Image: The Rincón Crossbody: This fold-over crossbody features the signature collapsible gusset for easy storage. The two-tone strap has braided detail on one side, and is adjustable in length. The beads are staggered at different intervals. On the interior, two circular pockets add functionality.
Image: The Es Trenç Shoulder Bag: This baguette is designed for ease and functionality. The wide braided strap adds extra comfort. Both sides have internal pockets, two on one side and three on the other. Its tassel features sea glass beads in two colors, as well as the signature Isleño azure ceramic.


Mario Gamundi-Houellemont is a Dominican fashion designer based in New York City.