June 1, 2010

How do I Choose My Designers?

Clients and friends often ask me how I choose a particular designer – and it’s so fun to think about because really there is a unique story that goes along with each one. Take Gianni Chiarini for example, a handbag designer whom I came to know just a few years ago.

I was shopping in my favorite clothing store of all in Florence, Macel, which is right near the Pitti Palace. In addition to clothing, they also sell a selection of shoes, boots and handbags, and everything in the shop is made in Italy. And much of it is Tuscan. I bought a bag there a few years ago, not even looking at the label. But I liked the soft leather, simple design, and knew I’d get a lot of use out of it.

The following day I was walking down Via dellaVigna Nuova, and went into a fabulous handbag shop called Contemporary Bags. The store sells solely Gianni Chiarini handbags, which turned out to be the label in the bag I had bought the day before.

I just knew when I saw this collection, that American women would love these bags. The prices are fairly reasonable, considering what imported handbags cost these days, the bags aren’t fussy, and they look sturdy and stunning. And best of all, it’s a Florentine company.

Once back at home in the States, I contacted the company and made arrangements to visit their showroom in Florence on my next trip. Imagine walking into a really big space- like an enormous supermarket- and all the rows, on either side, are filled with handbags. What would you do? I think I was drooling! They must have thought I was out of my mind. And I was swooning from the scent of so much leather. And by the way, Gianni himself is a pretty young and friendly guy.

As I’ve mentioned before, I follow my instincts. If I like a bag, I’m pretty certain my clients will too!

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