I got the phone call a month ago to confirm that I was one of the three handbag designers chosen for the American Express Open Rising Stars of Fashion Competition.  I was so nervous and excited at the same time but knew this was an opportunity I could not pass up.


Three up-and-coming handbag designers from New York flew to Las Vegas to individually design and create a unique handbag within the time frame of MAGIC Market Week.  Starting on August 19th, we went through an intense three days of sketching, sewing, and ultimately constructing a masterpiece LIVE.  American Express Open set up a beautiful stage for us to interact with buyers, customers, and fashion influencers which was such an experience and reward on its own.


The theme description for the competition was RETRO PROVEN NEWNESS.  The judging panel evaluated each of the designer’s final product based on the following criteria - Originality, Craftsmanship, Marketability, and Theme Integration.

Retro Proven Newness sparked the 1960’s on my mind, combined with aspects of today and tomorrow.  I love the swinging 60’s Mod-movement and the French film cover ‘Who Are you Polly Maggoo?’ with its stimulating visuals of black and white stripes.  I interpreted this look with zebra printed haircalf leather creating abstract black and white stripes paired with a maroon croc-embossed leather and black calf.  I chose a classic handbag shape that I could imagine being worn by Betty, Peggy, Megan, or Joan on Madmen.  I incorporated newness by adding three straps to allow the bag to be handheld, worn on your forearm, or as a shoulder bag that would incorporate a zebra Mohawk piece.  I wanted the bag to have a structural element like the 3D printed dress Dita Von Teese designed by Michael Schmidt.  And with that, I decided to name this the ‘Dita’ Shoulder Bag since she is a modern day muse with a great retro flair.


The final bag was definitely a wow piece and I am happy to share that I was chosen as the winner of the American Express Open Rising Stars of Fashion Competition!!!  What an amazing opportunity and I would like to say congratulations to Kristine & Aimee, the other two fab designers for being part of this wonderful experience.  Lastly, a HUGE thank you to American Express Open and the incredible team that made this happen.