Many may not know this, but last spring I applied for the 2019 Independent Handbag Designer Awards. I submitted my Elena backpack in color Dove and while I did get some positive feedback from some of the preliminary judges, my bag wasn’t selected and I wasn’t picked as one of the designers to attended the award show in New York City.
For those of you who don’t know, the IHDA is a great opportunity for independent designers (big and small) to give their brand or designs some visibility and a chance to win prizes like working with industry leaders or attending leading industry trade shows. There are 10 categories and the top 5 designers from each category get callbacks. To sum it up, it's an incredible opportunity.
While I was disappointed about not getting a callback, my family and close friends kept me motivated and reminded me why I began Leisarà. I didn't start this project to be nominated or win an award. I started this brand because it is something that I truly love. I understood that this particular “door” just didn't open for me.
Fast forward to November of 2019.
“If you need help finding inspiration for your next project, start by making a list of things that bring you joy and the things you love. The ideas sooner or later will just start flowing.”
While on my search for inspiration for my new project, I heard those very words from a fellow creative. It was at a time when I didn't know where or how to begin working on my new design. I knew I wanted to create something unique and different from what I had done before and in line with LEISARÀ as a brand. My only objective was to challenge myself to start thinking more like a designer.
So I began with my “love-list”. The first two things I wrote down were travel and photography. From there it branched out to destinations, monuments, foods, you name it. I narrowed it down to my favorite city, Paris, followed by a list of all the places and things I would photograph on what would be my first visit to the French capital.
I wrote down The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame. I started looking at the strong architectural forms and shapes that could be used in my design. I then remembered how, on so many of my trips throughout Europe, I would take countless photos of colorful wooden doors and their beautiful wood paneling and detailing. I felt like I was on to something, this couldn't be a coincidence.
I typed “Parisian Doors” in different search bars and BINGO. I found countless pictures of colorful doors and after hours of looking at each one of them in detail, I stumbled across an abandoned Instagram account (@PrettyDoorsOfParis) which ultimately led me to find my “muse” for my next project.
With the fear of somehow losing track of this particular door, I immediately followed the account, book-marked the page, took the screenshot with my phone and even printed it out. Coincidentally (if you believe in coincidences), the exact location of the door was written in the caption of this picture. So naturally, I searched for the exact location in the city.
My door as I started calling it, was in the 7th Arrondissement (the seventh district), on 21 Boulevard de la Tour Maubourg. In the exact district and approximately a 20 minute walk away from the only monument I dreamed of visiting since my early teens, the Eiffel Tower. This was it. I found the inspiration I needed and with a somewhat pixelated screenshot, I started designing.
I chose to work with the curves and lines of the wood paneling detail around the door nob as the focus piece for the front flap of my bag. I kept an overall clean and somewhat minimal design with a touch of class and elegance inspired by the silhouette of Valentino Garavani V-sling bag. I chose to keep the same hardware as the "mini Elena" backpacks, this time in a golden-tone, matching the metal components of the door.
This new bag is Inspired by the challenges we have to overcome while pursuing our dreams and passions and as a reminder that when a door closes another one nearby will always open, you just have to have the courage to look for it and persevere.
With everything going on in the world, I wasn't sure if I would be able to participate in this year's award show. But this past week IHDA announced that even with COVID19, they would still be holding virtual preliminary judging for the 2020 handbag awards. So while in quarantine here in Italy, I've been working on my application. Submissions are due April 25th, I'll have my fingers crossed!
P.s. Special thanks to Marta and Kallan from @PrettyDoorsofParis and Matt for the beautiful photos. Looking forward to meeting you all in Paris someday.**