I recently had the chance to pay one of my favorite handbag designers, Monica Botkier, a visit in her Soho design studio/showroom. We sat and talked about life, her family (she is the mother of 3!), how she fell into accessory design while working as a photographer and she even doled out some life advice for me in the manner of a wiser older sister as she showed me her upcoming Spring collection. While I can't share images yet I can tell you about a design shift away from the downtown slouchy bags which the designer built her name on to more structured, luxe new classics. The result is definitely very lady-like but with always an element of fun - like a pop of electric color or unique materials like rubberized leather.
While Botkier has always embraced unique Italian leathers, one of the big changes is that going forward all of the hardware is customized. In fact I just learned that all of the gold tone hardware that will be used going forward is actually gold plated! This results in a rich tone and very even smooth finish. Even the nameplate and zipper pull are also undergoing a minor transformation from an oval to a more square shape! Despite the changes the Botkier core commitment to lightweight, functional, quality handbags remains the same.
We discussed how leather ages over time and you should take that into consideration on how you want your bag to wear over time. I personally don’t mind a worn-in look with leather goods - so supple lamb skin that is unprocessed will change the most over time. With this leather the natural grain still shows and you can see subtle differences in texture with close examination. My lambskin handbags have become darker over time but I think it adds to their character. However, if you don’t want your leather to change, leather that has been processed like pebbled leather – with it’s smooth even grain - will stay pretty much the same for the life of the product. Botkier's upcoming rubberized leather bags are not only interesting because the material is so very flat and matte but they are built to last the material will remain virtually unchanged over time.
As we chatted Monica even modeled for me a pair of her very Miami and aptly named cherry red sunglasses that are a very new venture in partnership with Vogue eyewear and the CFDA who chose 3 designers to each create a frame inspired by a city as part of the 2011 City Collection. Since she was already wearing red, Monica joked that she almost wanted to walk down the street wearing it all together at once.
I soon learned that the red easy tunic was actually from her dear old friend - Gabby Basora, the designer behind Tucker! They’ve been friends long before they were designers. How cute is that? Designers that have a history as friends and who've found respective success in the fashion industry together.
One item I did have the opportunity to take pictures of is the gorgeous tri-tone Eden Satchel from the Resort collection. This bag is just the right size for every day use and features plenty of pockets for easy access to your phone, keys if subway card. The au courant combination of hot colors – red, deep purple and shocking pink make this handbag a real showstopper. The Eden will be available online on October 15, 2011 and is totally going on my wish list!
Last but not least I got a mini tour of the office before saying my farewells and sneaked a peek at her very personal wall of inspiration and things that are important to her including photos of her gorgeous family. Feeling excited and encouraged I walked away knowing that it was the perfect start to my weekend.