New York—Handbag designs were the center of attention on Wednesday night among the Big Apple’s fashion elite. And deservedly so at the 6th annual Independent Handbag Designer Awards (IHDA) presented by Handbag Designer 101.
Held at the Time-Life Building’s auditorium, the awards ceremony drew some 400 attendees—including designers from dozens of countries—who anxiously awaited the results. Emily Blumenthal, the awards’ creator and founder of Handbag Designer 101, said this year’s contest resulted in a record 1,000 handbag entrees which judges had to be pare down to the final 30 in seven categories.
That was no easy feat either, Blumenthal noted, as did representatives from sponsoring companies such as Timberland, Kipling, Handbags.com, Singer Sewing and JP Selects. Blumenthal paid tribute to the designers who came from as far away as Australia, Poland, Hungary, Costa Rica and Lebanon (well, almost, Harith Hashim of HariTHanD got held up by customs at the last minute).
But up and comers in the handbag business weren’t the only ones recognized. Kenneth Cole received the Iconoclast Award for his 30 years in the business, a success story “combining unique New York style, business acumen, philanthropic convictions and provocative social voice.”
Recounting his rise, Cole offered his some advice to budding designers, some of which came directly from his iconic, ironic advertisements: “If you can’t change the world alone you can always be an accessory.”
This year’s winners were:
The Best Handbag in Overall Style & Design
“Farah” style from the Jewel Series, Clutch, Mint Green Nubuck, retail: $875 by Bita and Rouzita Vahhabaghai, ita Collection
The Singer Simplicity Best Handmade Handbag
“The Lady Knight” Messenger, black goat and lambskin leather, retail: $895
By Sheila Harper Handbags of HarperJairdan,
The Handbags.com Best Student Made Handbag
“Ophilya,” hard leather bag, hand woven leather, plum purple, retail: $550
By Krystal Sokolis, Savannah College of Art and Design. Her design will be incorporated into Handbags.com’s private label program.
Best Green Handbag (sponsored by Timberland and Amorim Cork Composites)
Carryall, vintage textile with reclaimed hardware and leather trim, retail: $495
By Fiona Kempton of Kempton & Co.Wiltshire, England
The Most Socially Responsible Handbag (sponsored by JP Selects)
“The Hand” style, crossbody, red cowhide and palm weaving, button: animal bone, retail: $155
By Marisa Collado of Arbol de Viento, Mexico
Creating with Nylon by Kipling (Sponsored by Kipling)
Three-in-one convertible shopper by Aimee Kestenberg: Aimee Kestenberg for Kipling, Australia
InStyle.com Audience Fan Favorite
“Luba” Style, Mini Tote, Ivory Lamb Skin.
By Jennifer Lang of J. Lang, Costa Rica