When a friend invited us for an ice-cream recently I noticed that he kept his small change in a rather beautiful leather pouch. He had bought it that very day at Calame, he told me proudly, surprised to find out that I didn’t know the store. But I soon met with Alice Michel, who opened the small boutique in a narrow street behind Santa Eulàlia about two years ago – a treasure chest of things that will keep you company for a lifetime. Every piece has its own story, and Alice is always happy to share it with you.
The leather pouches come from Italy, and traditionally they were handed down from father to son, Alice told me. The Milanese Label Il Bussetto re-introduced an old Tuscan technique to produce leather goods completely free of seems which makes them both durable and pleasant to touch. I was also fascinated by a pair of golden earrings, a replica of a pre-Columbian model the original of which is on display at the Museo Larco in Lima. She explained how the different parts symbolize the sun, humans and snakes, central motifs of ancient Andean cultures. The French-Peruvian label Motché is inspired by the rich iconography of pre-Hispanic societies.
All articles in her store, Calame Palma, are carefully selected from small manufacturers all over the world: fine leather goods such as bags and rucksacks, card holders and wallets; shawls, scarves and foulards; and a unique choice of jewelry. Alice is constantly looking for new designers who complete her extraordinary line. If you like the style or material of a certain label but don’t find the right size or color, she will try to get it for you. Like that leather cover, a custom-made model for an artist’s sketch-book. Her own beloved piece is a timeless hobo bag from Tel Aviv-based Label Kisim made of buttery soft leather which she has owned for ages.
Alice grew up in Paris and soon fell in love with this hip concept store called Calame in popular Quartier Latin. The name of the store refers to a reed pen, a nib used for writing on papyrus in Ancient Egypt. It’s still an important tool in calligraphy, today. As precious as the fancy leather goods and writing accessories Alice was marveling at but could never afford as a student. And she could only dream to open her own Calame, some day. But the dream came true, and she chose a place that meant as much to her as the original store in Paris: Mallorca where her family had spent all summer holidays when she was a child.