Written By Melina Morry
Alissa Lapid and Serafina De Cristofano met while navigating the (at times, toxic) trenches of the fashion industry. “We bonded because [we were in] such a crazy, abusive, Devil Wears Prada environment,” explains Lapid over Zoom, referring to their tumultuous careers with a Toronto-based womenswear designer.
The pair would lean on each other through the wild ups and downs of the daily grind—including a time when they were barely acquaintances, scrambling to squeeze De Cristofano into a ready-to-wear frock, thanks to a no-show model, to parade in front of a table of buyers.
“Nothing bonds two co-workers faster than seeing one of them half naked,” laughs Lapid. Although the buyers didn’t go for the dress, the two women’s friendship was solidified in that hectic, semi-awkward, scantily clad moment.
Six years later, they’re still close friends. They were a match clad in Canadian couture.
Now, with their own brands under their belts, they’re getting ready to launch an extremely exclusive, limited edition collection of six totes; a coveted collaboration between NACU and Terse Totes. It’s the ultimate in exclusivity—and quality. NACU puts a strong emphasis on being unisex and minimal, while Terse Totes is self-described as sassy and sarcastic. Neither are your “average” brand, which makes them perfect to come together for a fun collaboration.
“The first person I thought of to do this with was Serafina,” says Lapid. “I trusted her and her skills and to see the vision I had.”
De Cristofano, who is currently a bag designer for a quintessential Canadian brand, knows more than your average person about what makes a good bag. For example, the handles on their collaborative totes are stitched four times, to make them as durable as possible. Is it overkill? Not a chance. “You’re not going to throw it out after a month of using it,” explains De Cristofano. “The tote is a little bit technical. It’s got a purpose to it.”
After a couple of virtual meetings, to iron out the design details, the tote collaboration began to come to life. However, it’s definitely not your average bag. And yes, many people claim that to be true about their designs, but in this case, it’s absolutely true. “There has been a lot of intention between every move we’ve made,” says Lapid.
Taking into consideration all types of terrain, the tote is expertly crafted from a strong, outdoors-type of material. Lined with water-resistant fabric, you can toss your damp bikini or empty water bottle into it without hesitation. After all, fashion girls don’t solely live in big cities. The unisex tote effortlessly trasitions from downtown drinks to seaside sunbathing, rural hikes, and everything in between. An extra-long padded strap makes toting it around a breeze while its “crazy deep” interior is ready for carrying anything you need it to.
Laughing, the designers reveal that it was inspired by being able to “carry a small animal” (think: Paris Hilton and Tinkerbell in the early aughts). As a nod to the pair’s cheeky, playful side, the tote features a quote that feels incredibly relatable: “Your anxiety is lying to you.” It’s meant to show off character, personality, and convey a familiar connection.
It’s a bag that is both undeniably functional and fashionable. Cliché? Maybe. But it’s fabulous.
For the dynamic duo, working together again was so seamless, it was almost like they never stopped. Lapid amends the statement with a knowing laugh: “Working together again… but in a better environment.” And will this be a one-off or a continuous collaboration? Both Lapid and De Cristofano agree that while it’s definitely a start, there’s no end in sight.
Also available at Terse Totes.