many books

In times when things are challenging, I like to try and focus on something positive. Yes, this is my author website and I like to develop posts regarding writing and what is happening with my own projects. However, I am still a woman, and what woman doesn’t appreciate beautiful handbags? Now, don’t worry. My post still has a literary theme, and in the run up to Christmas, it may even give you some inspiration for either yourself or the female (or male) literary lover in your life.

I recently came across a very talented designer who has made what might just be the ultimate literary accessory. Introducing, The Book Clutch.

I took the opportunity to ask the lovely Maria (developer of The Book Clutch) a few questions about her exquisite creations. Check out some of her answers below as well as some images of her stunning book clutch bags made under the name of By M.


Interview with Maria Marigliano Caracciolo

1.) How did By M. start? 

The story started a great number of years ago in the heart of the old city of Naples where you can find my family’s home, called Palazzo Marigliano which is now part of the National archives. The street where the palazzo is located is named “Via san Biagio dei Librai” which translates to the Street of Saint Blaise, protector of the booksellers. Everything in the neighborhood was inspired by the cultural heritage of precious book binding.  Nowadays, with the economic crisis and the encroachment of modernity, most of the traditional little bookshops have unfortunately not survived, but the area is still full of old world charm.  Located in what used to be our stables, you can still find one of the best bookbinders of Italy – The Antica Legatoria Artigiana.

My love for books basically started before I was born! Naples has also a strong tradition of elegance and tailoring “sur mesure”: so a couple of years ago, I combined our book binding tradition as well as our fashion tradition to create a bespoke book clutch, made using only ancient tools, imagination and centuries of passion! At the same time,  it is a philanthropic mission to preserve beautiful traditions and help the families of the craftsmen who are working hard to maintain this tradition in hard economic times.

2)The book clutch was your first collection, what inspired you to create such a unique style of bag?

Ancient Books are part of my personal and cultural heritage. Despite my international background, and my current life moving between Rome and London, I have always kept a very strong link with Naples.  All my life I wanted people from abroad to discover the culture and the beauty of my native town.Through my 100% ‘made in Naples’ creations I am enticing the world with some of the the Neapolitan fantasy and savoir faire.  There is still a long way to go, but it is fun and everybody in the palazzo is very happy about this adventure!

3) How did you go about finding suppliers and bringing your vision to life?

By M. book clutches are created according to a century long tradition, using only the finest leather, silks and gold leaves. My suppliers work in my court yard so for me it was easy to work with the team as I grew up with them and know each one personally. They were a little too conservative in the beginning  and skeptical about the idea of turning a book into fashion accessory but now i think they enjoy it a lot!

Every step of a book clutch’s construction is done by hand – exactly like the books of past centuries. We do not use any electrical devices.  Even the gold decoration and lettering is done by hand. The artisans impress the  letters and the decorations on the leather using the traditional Gold Leif technique. To decorate your book clutch, By M. offers a large selection of original tools and filigrees from the bookbindery, dating back two centuries. Every single detail of a client’s book clutch is the result of a considered and informed choice.


4)Some of your book clutch bags have found their way into some famous closets, can you tell us a little about some of your VIP clients and which books they chose?

We have been lucky enough to create bespoke bags for Cara Delevingne (Alice in Wonderland); Poppy Delevingne (The Princess and the Pea) and the Royal Princess of Monaco Beatrice Borromeo (Teresa Batista Cansada de Guerra) to name a few!

5) If you could only choose one title to have on your own book clutch, what would it be ?

Il gattopardo – the leopard, because it’s the story of my people plus a great romance.

6) What is your favourite thing about being a designer?

I like the personalization we are able to offer our clients. Every detail of the book clutches can be personalised according to preference, from the colour and material to the decoration and of course, the title. On the back cover, we use the Latin “EX LIBRIS”, the reader’s name can be pressed in gold underneath. I think our products are more than a fashion. The finished bag represent a true expression of ourselves in an ironic, impudent and sophisticated way that  conventional ‘fashion’ doesn’t often allow.

7) What’s next for By M. ?

We are going to be expanding to the middle east!

8) Sum up your bags in three words

ironical, intellectual, chic!

If you would like more information about these beautiful bags, visit