mas marie philippe


Certain people, brands, or other life cases have emerged OUT OF THE BLUE. When taking a closer look, there’s a long journey that lets them walk the path leading to where they are now. Today: the story of MARIE PHILIPPE, FOUNDER of MAS, a luxury emerging brand incubated by Sara King Moura. Cover photo: courtesy of mas


Marie Philippe’s vision is crystal clear. “We believe it’s not just about where you come from, it’s where you’re going. It’s about stepping into the world and returning to the familiar. Coming back home. It’s about a quality of life, in how we care for a life well-lived and the things and people we surround ourselves with.” Keeping an eye on the future while remaining grounded in the present is a summary that falls short of explaining the founder’s way of working, but it does, to some extent, reflect Philippe’s take on life. 

Philippe got her first ballet assistant dance teacher job at age fifteen. “I loved it,” she reminisces. Looking back, she starts connecting the dots: dance’s influence on Philippe and mas’s development is undeniable. “Dancing was a big and core part of my youth, even of who I am today. Think method, resilience, lightness, humbleness – I learned those values and principles through ballet.” Developing new skills and teaching choreography to others fueled her creativity back in the day. “I wanted to share a passion with like-minded people. Ballet is extremely demanding, though, requesting an avid sense of sacrifice and aesthetics. Its grace has taught me to achieve classic visuals while conceiving timeless traits.”

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How Philippe looks back on her dancing career might put you on the wrong track. It wasn’t her childhood dream to become a dancer per se—she’s always pursuing to become a leader instead. The idea of accomplishing a place in life that could directly reflect a woman’s power was what drove me the most. I wanted to be extraordinary in my field and do it my way to honor myself and my identity and individualism. Deep down, I knew I had something “else” in me to go and explore; the type of something that leads to a somewhat unfamiliar pathway in my hometown.”

Marie Philippe

Her mother has always been her most significant source of inspiration. She worked as a seamstress with an excessive interest in fashion, so Philippe grew up surrounded by fashion literature – from “fashion bibles” to commercial magazines. She remembers being curious since a young age, which helped evolve an interest in fashion, but her mother’s “mastery” triggered Philippe to learn the tricks of the trade herself. “My mother’s job triggered my hunger for fashion know-how. From trends to the actual creation of new styles that were, up until that point, in my head, my fashion sense started to broom. It brought me this feeling of wanting to dive in deeper. Once I decided to study fashion, I felt understood by people I eventually met at school—a validation that empowered me. This desire to discover and be curious made me fall in love with creating out of my world, just like my mother did.”

What has driven you to start mas? 

“Before the handbag and the craftsmanship were the intention and the vision. In my design process, the creation of the physical elements is as important as its value, which to me is the vehicle and the way it’s created. My core purpose resides in making mas about the people revolving around the bags, from the artisans making the bags in Italy to the person carrying them anywhere in the world. The journey was an important part for me to underline. It’s why we invest in quality and include the sourcing of the materials and the actual team of craftsmen.”

Marie Philippe

Vintage refinement and understated quality are essential to mas. How do you incorporate these values into your designs?

“Everything is in the details, even the ones we don’t necessarily see but can undeniably feel and experience. A bag made by the best artisans in Italy truly sparkles differently, thanks to an unwavering quality. The choices of the materials that compose the bag show elegance. And so, once a design is created and born, it becomes a moving piece of art.”

How did your experience at Hermès and The Row add to the brand?

“Hermès was a great school and taught me about irrevocable discipline and the relentless quest for perfecting details. The Row taught me how to bring life to a singular vision holistically.” 

Marie Philippe

After working for big houses like Hermès and The Row, being in the picture and launching a brand can be frightening. Were you afraid of failing or spreading the word?

“At first, I was. Putting your heart into developing and nurturing a creative concept to later put out into the world can be frightening. Still, the more I saw amazing women wearing masks, the easier it became to see this dream, and this story became a reality. Our marketing and communication efforts are rooted in consistency and softness. An impeccable strategy and curation of the channels and people we aim to cater to and build relationships with has also helped greatly. It makes everything “slower” but certainly feels like the right pace for a brand built upon a genuine story and grounds. Having said this, we hope to have our people spreading the word, one that likes the brand and will be rooted in quietness and poignancy.”

How would you describe mas’s aesthetic?

“Mas is rooted in meticulous quality and simple elegance. We believe in quintessential visuals and design elements, leading to this rustic and almost stealthy quietness. We represent the intersection between the perfect bucolic energy and old-money styling attributes.”

How do you generate ideas and bring them to life?

“I usually start with shape and form. I approach it as an architect would define the volume of a house. I always remember the intention and timelessness to bring to an everlasting bag. It must be well-crafted, with the right materials, construction, and shape. I do lots of research and always watch anything regarding materials and colors across different industries. Playing with shapes and working on integrating wood pieces and hardware is always done on a trial-and-error basis. I always start sketching on paper. Once I feel I need to explore the concept, I move to creating the bag in the 3D paper by hand. When the dimension is conceptualized, I work with the artisans in Italy to bring the idea to life. The construction is a big part of making a high-quality design. We then make a prototype and a sample with the final materials.”

Marie Philippe

Is there anyone or anything that inspires you heavily?

“Yes: Brunello Cuccinelli. I admire what he has built in terms of design and vision. His idea of humanistic capitalism inspired me to thrive and believe in this set of values. That anything can be possible.”

What insight or advice has been determinative for where you stand right now?

“To be inspired by my stubbornness and resilience while letting everyone call my ideas crazy. It kept pushing me and leading me to the right lane, pace, and vision.”

What are you most proud of?

“Being able to connect with many women around the world. Nothing makes me prouder than seeing a businesswoman from Hong Kong wearing the Nine to Nine Bag, a mother carrying the Garden Tote in California, or a woman going out with the Quinta Bag in New York City. Seeing mas’s vision come to life and the end-products being carried by inspiring women makes me proud. Seeing Kelly Rutherford, Ali Pew, Alessandra Codinha, Carina Nicklas, Anouk Yve, Athea Calderone, Jordie Foster, and other women supporting the brand keeps me going. Building a community from the ground up with the support of a great team is the most beautiful thing there is.”