With three Oscars in hand, 11 nominations under her belt and three movies in progress, costume designer extraordinaire Colleen Atwood would hardly seem positioned to launch into a new area of creativity. Yet, she has done just that, introducing a line of high-end handbags that she created for Citizens of Humanity.
Atwood made a stopover in Houston recently to introduce her sleek bags at an intimate luncheon at Tootsies. Classic in design, the bags are made in the same Italian workshops where Chanel leather goods are constructed and are commensurately priced in the $2,200 to $6,200 range.
The luscious leathers, pony skins and rich craftsmanship were a hit with the lunching ladies. A number of the bags were sold before the first course. The reception has been similar in various corners. Elle magazine says, "With attention to subtleties like texture, luxe skins, and chic but easy silhouettes, Atwood makes a smart debut."
Atwood's creative talents earned her costume design Oscars for Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and Alice in Wonderland. Her 11th nomination was for Into the Woods. The golden statuettes, she allows, perch on shelves in her home office where the 11 certificates of nomination are framed.
And how did she expand from elaborate costume design to handbags?
"I t's a piece that you can pass on or take it out after a couple of years and have it not be at the resale store the next year."
"It was sort of serendipitous," she said. "I was doing an interview for Citizens of Humanity's magazine and I was talking to them about my work and I told them that I love fine leather products and I've always wanted to do a great handbag." Shortly after, the company approached her about doing a line.
"It was quite an interesting thing for me to get into it but I really love doing it," she said.
Inspiration for the handbags comes from Atwood's lifestyle and her frequent travels. Her perfectionist bent is evident in every aspect of the product.
"It really is inspirational to me to see a bag or materials that are really the best quality and can really last for more than 20 minutes," she said. "I like a timeless aspect, something partly inspired from my life of seeing great leather pieces that are vintage but with some modern hardware touches. It's kind of a combination of that moving forward and the idea that it's a piece that you can pass on or take it out after a couple of years and have it not be at the resale store the next year."
Not long after the elegant lunch in Tootsies' light-filled dining room, Atwood, who calls Los Angeles home, was headed to the airport, eventually landing in London where she is living while working on several projects. She just completed costume design for a sequel to Alice in Wonderland, is at work on a sequel to Snow White & the Huntsman and is starting on a new Tim Burton film.