In the Clutch
Never match your handbag to your shoes and other fashion advice from designer Nancy Gonzalez
The name Nancy Gonzalez has become synonymous with luxury and color. Her exquisite handbags, known for vibrant hues and exotic skins, are handcrafted by local artisans in her native Colombia. Each bag can take up to two days to make.
Gonzalez debuted her first collection in 1998 at Bergdorf Goodman. Since then the thoroughly modern yet timeless accessories have become favorites of celebrities like Hayden Panettiere, Sofia Vergara, Blake Lively and Elizabeth Hurley. Gonzalez also collaborated with participating artists to create a line of one-of-a-kind masterpieces for last year’s Two x Two for AIDS and Art auction.
“A woman should simply love her handbag, and it should be wearable by everyone,” Gonzalez says.
Before we considering dropping $3,000 on a new tote, we sat down with the petite and chic designer for a quick chat before her personal appearance at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. With a cobalt blue fall 2013 clutch in hand, here’s what she had to say.
CultureMap: Tell us about the first handbag you designed.
Nancy Gonzalez: It was weaved with crocodile leather and banana leaf. I kept the colors in their natural state; I like real materials. [This] first design was sold at Bergdorf Goodman.
CM: Why did you begin designing handbags?
NG: I was looking for something [to do] that I loved — it came from inside me — and it was handbags.
CM: Where do you find inspiration?
NG: Everywhere. I'm always thinking for something new and something different. I see life in colors.
CM: What's your favorite material to work with?
NG: All natural materials such as crocodile and python.
CM: Tell us about the design process.
NG: I look at new colors, new skins and shapes, and I'm always looking for new techniques like laser cutting. I add 150 styles to each collection, three times a year. That's my biggest challenge — coming up with new ideas.
CM: Favorite travel destinations?
NG: Paris and Marrakesh.
CM: What's the key to choosing a handbag?
NG: No matter what, it should make a woman feel gorgeous and fabulous, just like anything else.
CM: Favorite color this season?
NG: Cobalt blue — close to Yves Klein blue.
CM: Ladies often struggle with matching their handbags to their clothes. Should handbags match, or is this a misconception?
NG: It should not match. In fact, our least sold color is black. A woman should simply love her handbag, and it should be wearable by everyone.
A good example is with our customers in Beverly Hills. People don't age [there]; they are in a state of timelessness. A lady came into our store with her daughter and granddaughter — you couldn't tell who was the youngest — and all three of them could wear the handbag they purchased that day.