The Inspiration Behind Mark Schwartz’s New Line, DEIJI

A particular ingenuity was instilled into by having Mark Schwartz as our creative director. For the release of our signature totes, The Cleopatra and Elizabeth I, and our sneakers, The Nefertiti, the brilliance of Schwartz’s creative mind is the centerfold.

“I try to sketch every morning,” Schwartz says, “Usually for pleasure with a specific direction. This signature line, in particular, was something that I was working on for a few weeks,” he explains.

Patterned in circles with beige, black, and pumpkin tones, The Cleopatra and The Nefertiti were first envisioned through an oil-based painting on canvas by Schwartz. He was inspired by the natural wonders of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, which are symbols that were typically used on ancient Egyptian monuments as a way to tell stories. Ironically enough, what the Egyptians did not know was that these aesthetics would be a way for the modern world to understand the history and culture behind this ancient civilization.

Based on these facts, it soon became evident this canvas would harmoniously align with what inspired the DEIJI line in the first place: the natural wonders of the world. Thus, The Cleopatra and The Nefertiti were born. Named after two of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific female pharaohs, Nefertiti ruled during one of the most contentious yet wealthy periods of ancient Egyptian history, and Cleopatra, with her breathtaking beauty, poise, and intelligence, swayed the political agendas of two of the most powerful men in Roman history, Mark Antony and Julius Caesar. She was also the last ruler of Ancient Egypt before the country became a province of Rome, marking the end of a long and important dynasty.

Regarding The Cleopatra and The Nefertiti, “I was truly inspired by the earth tones implemented through their hieroglyphics,” Schwartz clarifies. “Architecture, both elemental and industrial, really inspire a lot of my work.” The Cleopatra is also available in brown and black leather as an option.

The Elizabeth I, the other all-leather tote bag in DEIJI’s signature collection, implements the same architectural aspects. Black square patterned with pumpkin, beige and red tones, this tote bag was also inspired by an oil-based canvas Schwartz created. The bag’s name is derived from Queen Elizabeth I’s fiery red hair; she is one of the longest ruling monarchs in European history and the daughter of Henry VIII. Bringing peace and prosperity to England after years of religious unrest throughout the land, Elizabeth I was the last ruler of the Tudor Dynasty. The Elizabeth I is also available in brown and black leather as an option.

“It was these women’s legacies and the nature of my inspirations that lead to the signature line’s namesakes,” Schwartz explains. “There’s no arguing that [Cleopatra, Nefertiti, and Elizabeth I] were royalty even outside of bloodlines, and I would say DEIJI in and of itself is just that–royalty,” he explains.

DEIJI ‘s signature line and handcrafted nature of products in Italy are what inspired DEIJI photographer Toni Pierdome to create a photoshoot at Gianni Versace’s apartment in Ancona, Italy with DEIJI model Denise Recchi showcasing the signature line.

Friends for over a year, Schwartz met Recchi at an art gallery show, and later found out she and her husband own what is known as Versace’s last apartment before he branded his fashion line.

“Given her look, and the prestigious nature of what Versace has meant to the fashion world, it only made sense to do the photoshoot there [for the signature line],” he explained. “It was a lovely experience where [Recchi] said, ‘I’m not really a model,’ and I said, ‘Well today you are,’” Schwartz says laughing.

Please visit here to view the wonderful behind-the-scenes footage from the Versace signature line photoshoot.

About Mark Schwartz

Mark Schwartz is intimately involved with the production of DEIJI is made at the same facilities as the most luxurious Italian-made brands with the same skill and quality level. Deemed a certified genius, he graduated from Julliard in the late 1970s and studied under greats like Robert Vivier and Andy Warhol. Schwartz soon became an icon in his own right. Over Schwartz’s 40-year career, he has collaborated with fashion houses such as Gucci, Chanel, Balenciaga, and Marc Jacobs. He has also created footwear per personal request for many celebrities, including Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Madonna, Oprah, Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, JLo, and Hillary Clinton.


The idea behind DEIJI (day-ḡ) is simple: “To convey the essence of the natural beauty of our world.” Keeping that statement in mind, we design high-quality, luxury accessories with the goal that they are effortlessly worn and take on new meaning with every person that puts them on.

Named after the Korean word for Daisy, DEIJI is the brainchild of fashion designers Mark Schwartz and Riva Wilkins. Focusing on the concept of beauty and authenticity, DEIJI is made to last through each big idea, breakthrough, and accomplished goal wherever you are in your creative process. It is our pleasure to help inspire you in your evolution to become the ultimate you. Inspired by Asian Pop Culture, Italian Moxy, and American Ingenuity, DEIJI represents simplicity in the devotion to your ambitions, creative endeavors, and the steps it takes to reach your next goal.

DEIJI wants to be there through it all. You work hard for the things you want out of life. So, you deserve a brand that can withstand the wear and tear it takes to get there without having to sacrifice authenticity. As a team of creatives from all over the world, we get the grind it takes to accomplish your dreams, so we’ve come together to help you with yours. We want to create products that highlight the beautiful things in life with you as a canvas and us as your pop of color.

Ideas can come and go, but passions last forever, and that’s the focus behind DEIJI. All of our products are handmade with the highest quality materials sourced directly from local communities. DEIJI is made at the same facilities as most luxurious Italian-made brands with the same skill and quality level.

At DEIJI we believe in a commitment to excellence, longevity, and the creation of happiness through our products. That’s why no matter what life throws your way, DEIJI will be able to withstand it all. Whether it is a business meeting at work, a friend’s art gallery showing, or a musical festival, DEIJI will be there to help you create memories today that will last through all your tomorrows.

Handmade in Italy with love, our company follows a strict ethics code surrounding the creation of our products with sustainability regarding the environment in mind. Each one of our facilities is in compliance with Italy’s environmental laws. This means that with respect to our impact on the world, DEIJI‘s dyes are vegan, and our leather is naturally produced with no harmful pollutants put into our water sources.

Furthermore, any resources that are considered waste are collected and recycled. Our goal is to create products that do not pollute our world to inspire you and those around you. We also care about our team members and our facility workers. This means we pay fair wages and practice the ethics of no child labor while implementing safe working conditions. This also includes hands-on engagement with the communities we source from, so we can better understand DEIJI‘s global footprint and how we can continue to give back.

Every season DEIJI releases new collections with inspirations from the past. It is our goal to build upon our previous concepts with fresh approaches that inspire our creativity as well as your own. Every other month, we add to our collections with curated pieces that enhance our vision and add value to our story.

Weekly DEIJI releases featured works, limited restocks, and hints of what’s to come in seasons ahead. In the end, our goal is to be consistent in the process of evolution. This is ultimately accomplished through the creation of high-quality and luxurious products that sustain the wear and tear of life while being environmentally friendly.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.

Related Posts

Previous post Fashion icon Richard Parsakian on vintage, combat boots, and creating a “safe space”
Next post Shop the Striped, Tie-Neck Blouse Meghan Markle Wore to Promote Her New Podcast