Theatrical costume designer Colleen Atwood has taken on another project. The three-time Academy Award winner — known for her work in films such as Memoirs of a Geisha and Alice in Wonderland — has taken her talent to handbags (while working on two more film projects — now, that’s multitasking!). The timeless collection features three bag styles: the Sojourner backpack (my personal fave), the Chiara envelope clutch and the Scala pochette, all available at Tootsies. Atwood flew straight from London to promote the new line in Houston. Here’s a peek inside our convo.
THOUGHTS ON HOUSTON.
It’s always nice to come to a place like Houston. It’s not on my beaten track of the cities I go to. To me, it’s such a feminine city, and it’s really nice to see how women dress and their style. It’s nice to see people who are genuine and friendly.
HOW YOU MADE THE MOVE FROM COSTUME DESIGN TO HANDBAGS.
It was sort of serendipitous. I had an interview for Citizens of Humanity with the brand director, and I was talking to him about a project I had going on where I had a lot of leather around me. I said that I had always loved leather objects and that I had always wanted to design a great handbag because I love handbags, especially vintage ones.
ARE HANDBAGS YOUR ITEM OF CHOICE?
I like to purchase everything, so it’s dangerous, but I do appreciate a great handbag. And there are so many great ones out there at the moment. It’s a great time for handbags. The really high-quality ones, the ones that will last for a long time, are the ones I’m interested in and what I wanted to develop. I like the idea of timelessness in accessories.
DID ANY ONE MOVIE INSPIRE YOUR COLLECTION?
Not really, but one of the bags was inspired from The Tourist, one of the movies I worked on a few years ago. It was very modern, but with a little bit of a ’30s vibe. When ladies were ladies — a very feminine, ladylike bag. The Sojourner, the backpack/tote bag, is really great for people who actually have to take work stuff with them. Girls like us. You can be organized and still be stylish.
YOUR FAVORITE FROM THE LINE.
The Sojourner is the most “me,” in the sense of who I am and what I do. I think the Scala is the bag that I wish I was: more lady, more feminine, more glamorous. The Chiara is a great clutch bag … If I didn’t have to take a bunch of crap with me everywhere, I would use [that one]. It’s great for the weekend.
FAVORITE PROJECT SO FAR.
You’re usually ready for them to end, but sometimes there’s a moment in design where you have one more design to go, and then I go through this whole separation anxiety. It’s sort of sad, because you know that’s the last thing you’re doing for a really intense thing you’ve been working on for months, so you sort of milk the last one for a long time. Kinda like a baby —you don’t want to let it go.