Let’s face it, the fashion industry often acts as if everything were a capital “F.” Especially around Fashion Weeks were everyone is in such a judgmental mood.
Not so with designer Kent Stetson who has taken an almost Warholish approach to handbags. Stetson is first and foremost an artist who just happens to use handbags as his canvas.
“I believe that a great handbag can engage people in the same way as art. In 2003, as a framing experiment, I formed one of my two dimensional pieces into a handbag,” Stetson recalls. “Since then, handbags have become my medium and I have created unique designs for collectors throughout the world. When you acquire a bag that I have made, you become a patron of an unusual kind of art.”
To achieve this handbag art that Stetson developed in his Providence, Rhode Island-studio, “I create an image, which is then digitally-printed on to canvas. Next, I coat the printed-canvas before finally cutting and sewing the bag. I have spent the past 10 years developing this process, which is a blend of technological innovation and traditional craftsmanship. The canvas and the structural components that go into the construction of each bag are primarily American-made. When completed, I sign the inside of the bag. There is a lot of joy that goes into creating each bag.”
There’s the Jackson Pollack-ish splatter, a plucky raccoon face, a delicious donut depiction, and, a favorite, the picnic, complete with some uninvited guests, ants.
“There can be moments when life and art fuse together. While there may be no single formula for this phenomenon, it is my hope that the bags I make can be a catalyst for this reaction,” Stetson says.
To some they are fine art, to others camp, or even kitsch.
In any case, we agree with architect Charles Jencks who once quipped: “If you can’t take the kitsch, get out of the kitchen.”
Retails: $165 to $325