Roberto Calasanz Is Feeling the Burn

Brook Altman
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Since Wonder Woman launched, Roberto Calasanz is feeling the burn.  Men and women are running to his store for his one-of-a-kind, personally designed leather cuffs.  I knew the minute I walked into his store, I was having a prowdr moment.  I knew my senses were aligned, and the sixth sense had kicked in…the emotion.  I had arrived.  

I was walking around DUMBO (otherwise known as “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass,” for anyone not familiar with Brooklyn) searching for a gift for my fiancée’s birthday.  I came upon this enchanting, little storefront, what I can only describe as part artisan’s workshop, part zen-sanctuary boutique. The shop is De Main, at 145 Front St.  I peeked in the window to see the owner, Roberto Calasanz, hard at work in his atelier.  I couldn’t resist taking a closer look. Inside, Roberto greeted me with his disarming Dominican warmth and a passion to show me absolutely everything.  

He was in the process of crafting a pair of custom leather Wonder Woman cuffs—meticulously cut, etched, gilded and distressed by hand into perfect replicas of those worn by Gal Gadot in the recent blockbuster.  No mystery why someone would commission a pair—wearing a cuff on each arm to balance out the strength of the human ego.  What a great gift!  They were stunning, and no two exactly alike.  

Although Roberto has a riverfront atelier in the Catskills near Woodstock, he produces much of his distinctive, handcrafted leather accessories right in his little shop in Brooklyn.  De Main caters to the most discriminating leather aficionado, offering  hand-cut, custom-fit accessories for men and women, as well as an amazing line of custom leather collars and leashes for dogs.  With this level of craftsmanship, design and attention to detail, no wonder De Main is the go-to locale for top stylists who regularly feature Roberto’s creations in their fashion spreads for trendsetting magazines, like JonesAMAZING Magazine and the WWD.  You can discover some of his pieces here in this video.

Roberto curates his shop with an eclectic inventory of handcrafted accessories and home décor that caters to an equally eclectic clientele—from neighborhood fashionistas to performers, from Brooklyn professionals to, at the moment, revelers accessorizing before heading to Burning Man.

In an industry increasingly dominated by computer-assisted design and illustration, Roberto practices the disappearing art of the precision line sketch and flawless gouache illustration before putting blade to leather.

Behind the precision cuts that distinguish Roberto’s leatherwork is the skill of a meticulous draftsman carrying on the fine-arts tradition in fashion illustration we associate with Alberto Vargas and Antonio Lopez.  Roberto’s creations draw on diverse cultural idioms and on decades of experience as a designer and illustrator in the New York fashion scene, working with leading designers, such as Jack Mulqueen, Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, Donghia, Harvé Benard and Talbots.  To get to know Roberto better, swing by his shop in DUMBO, or check out this interview I conducted with him at De Main.

If you can’t make it to DUMBO, you can discover Roberto’s illustration work as an instructor at the University of Fashion, the first and largest online fashion design video library in the world.  Lessons are taught exclusively by fashion college professors and fashion-industry professionals.  Students range from beginning fashion students to experienced, professional fashion designers and seasoned home sewers.  Roberto shares his expertise in rendering diverse fabrics in marker and gouache.

Hero Image Photo courtesy of Biel Parklee.  Styling by Rodney Patterson

Connect with Roberto and receive 10 percent off your purchase when you mention Prowdr.

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Brook Altman is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Prowdr.com. To learn more about how this extraordinary LGBTQ lifestyle website came into being, check out Welcome to Prowdr.

Check out our Lifestyle section for other great posts like this one on Prowdr!

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