With a background dotted with names like Murakami, Anna Sui, Michael Kors, and Twinkle by Wenlan, it's clear that handbag designer Jenny Yuen got her start where many would be content ending up. Her line of handbags, currently in its third collection, blurs the line between whimsicality and sophistication, balancing classic appeal with vintage flair so beautifully you'll never want to set the bag down. Rich neutrals like chocolate and chestnut add a certain timeless quality to the youthful garnet and sapphire leathers, and boxy satchels and bowler style bags carry with them a dreamy sense of nostalgia. So where does her inspiration come from? "I don't have a set way of finding inspiration," she says. "Sometimes it stems from seeing a woman walking down the street and saying to myself, 'wow she's got a great bag and she looks so put together.'" It's the kind of outlook that makes us want to tag along with her for a few hours, just to see this process for ourselves, but for now we're perfectly content just fawning over her creations. Read on to learn more about Jenny, including her experience working with Takashi Murakami and her advice for aspiring designers!Stylehive: How did you become interested in handbag design?
Jenny: I think most women's love of handbags starts with childhood memories and their fascination with their mother's handbags. I remember being a little girl and always wanting to go through my mom's handbag and wondering "what's in there?" And it seemed like there was always something really cool in there like candy, make up, keys, a book etc. Then when I was a teenager my mom got me a sewing machine for my birthday and I was able to make them for myself and I guess really ever since then when I needed a bag or purse, I would just sew one up!Stylehive: Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?
Jenny: The whole inspiration process is very organic, i don't have a set way of finding inspiration. Sometime it stems from seeing a woman walking down the street and saying to myself "wow she's got a great bag and she looks so put together, I need something like that!" Other times it is seeing a great vintage bag in an old magazine or movie and want to incorporate that nostalgic design into something a little more modern.Stylehive: What was it like working with Murakami?
Jenny: Working with Murakami was such a unique experience! The time when I was working with his studio was also a very exciting time as well, we were in the midst of the Cherry Blossom mania and people outside of the art world were taking notice. It was also just amazing to hear his philosophies and how he valued the whole process with such care and attention when creating his art. Of course the final product was important but I think I learned a lot in understanding that the steps leading up to the end result and the process was just as important and as much "art" as the final piece. This is something that I find myself reflecting on a lot. The idea that if you put all your energy and passion into the creation of the object that your audience or customer will in the end see this same passion and energy.Stylehive: Who's your favorite handbag designer?
Jenny: I LOVE Roberta di Camerino handbags with the printed velvet. They look like mini Mary Poppins' bags! They are very classic but quirky at the same time.Stylehive: What can we look forward to for Spring/Summer '09?
Jenny: I had a lot of fun designing the Spring/Summer 2009 collection. I think I experimented a bit more with textures and techniques a bit and a made some other accessories, like belts!
Stylehive: Anything else you'd like to add?
Jenny: I get a lot of e-mails from young women and design students about their fears and anxieties about becoming a designer and all the self-doubt and criticism that they may experience in school and in their careers, and I just want them to know that everyone at all points in their careers will to a certain degree doubt themselves. I think doubting yourself is a natural part of the process. If you never doubt yourself, you will never question your skills and push yourself more to experiment and try new things. But on a similar note, I think at the same time everyone should remember that fashion is a means of expression and just to have fun with it!Click here to visit Jenny Yuen's website and shop the current collection, and be sure to visit her page in the Hive!