Today we are celebrating the launch of the ultimate women's leather business handbags, the Grand Career Tote, with it's designer, Angelina Hart. Angelina and I sat down to discuss the genesis of her new design, her inspirations and what she hopes to achieve with her leather business handbags.
JD- Since this is your first designer leather handbag, can you tell our readers a bit about your background, where you are coming from and how you got into designing women’s luxury products?
AH - I grew up in a very European influenced home. Being half German and half Yugoslavian, I had a lot of exposure to different languages, cultures and food. This inspired me to travel and explore the world. I was also very adventurous growing up. I began riding horses at the age of four. I also developed a passion for fast Italian sports cars, motorcycles, flying airplanes, scuba diving, surfing, archery and shooting guns. I've been called the female James Bond.
In addition to my adventurous side, I also had a passion for the luxuries of life. My father always taught me that if you buy the very best of something that you can afford and you take care of it, it will last a lifetime. I developed a deep appreciation for quality, design, and style. After purchasing decades of luxury handbags, I decided to create my own. I drew inspiration from the top designers in Paris and Italy to create my own line of luxury handbags.
JD - I understand you were a collector for many years. How has that affected your designs?
AH - I have always loved leather handbags. That is my weakness, some women are addicted to shoes, but I am addicted to handbags. My closet looks like a luxury boutique. I have a wide collection of bags from Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Furla, Fendi, Prada, Givenchy, Hermes, the list goes on. They are like beautiful pieces of art that I can wear. I appreciate their style and quality. There was always a little something that I wanted to change on those leather handbags.
For example, the metal zipper teeth on the interior pocket where you store a cellphone was very problematic. The metal teeth would scratch my phone, chip my manicure or catch on my ring. I felt that the pocket could be improved to avoid this problem. I started a list of fixes and improvements. I took everything from this list and created my own line. Designing leather handbags is a lifelong dream come true. I wanted to combine my designs with unparalleled quality and introduce my new luxury line to the world.
JD - What would you say are your biggest influencers?
AH - I am influenced by glamour. I’m influenced by timeless and classic style that will never go out of fashion. I am inspired by the era of the 20’s, the Gatsby style. When men and women dressed to the nine all the time. I love the idea of women dressing like ladies and men dressing like gentlemen. I look back at old movies and television shows for inspiration. I am very influenced by classic and timeless fashion mixed with the modern active woman.
I love classic fashion, for example, a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe that you can still wear today. Design of a certain quality never goes out of style. And I also draw on my hobbies for inspiration. My passion for yachting, Italian cars and dressage has inspired some of my upcoming handbags. There are certain aesthetic elements of those hobbies that translate into the design of my handbags. I want that to draw my customers into my world, to share my experiences and hopefully inspire women to adventurous.
JD - I see you travel quite a bit. Do you find that specific places influence your designs? How have you been influenced by locations?
AH - I love to travel and I have been to so many places all over the world. One of my favorite places is Monaco. I would move there tomorrow if I could. On my first trip, I went to the Casino de Monte-Carlo and was taken back by all the beauty that surrounded me. As I walked into the hotel, I felt like I was in a James Bond movie. I was waiting to see him pull up in his Aston Martin.
The view from the stunning Salle Blanche was my favorite. As I was playing Punto Banco, I felt so inspired and stimulated by everything around me. It was a memorable time of elegance and inspiration.
JD - So all that adds up to the Grand Career Tote. Why should a woman choose the Grand Career Tote? What makes it the ultimate leather business handbag?
AH - For many years I carried a designer bag and a briefcase at the same time. I felt like an alpaca. I was so delighted by my handbag but very embarrassed by my business bag. Business bags in the past have always been very masculine and ugly. Or they were feminine but of such poor quality.
I wanted to create the ultimate business handbag for career women: A perfect combination of beauty from the fashion world and all of the organization and functionality of a business tote. I wanted a bag that could transition from daytime to evening. This business handbag is the only bag you will need.
JD - The interior is very unique. Can you tell us about that?
AH - The interior was inspired by some of my favorite hotels in Europe. The striped satin interior is reminiscent of some of the softest and most luxurious sheets. The light golden interior compliments the beautiful cream accents on the exterior of the bag.
Having a light and bright interior makes it easier to find items in your bag. The elegance of the liner is something that separates a business handbag like the Grand Career Tote from other business tote out there. There is a level of glamor in the execution of this bag that is unique.
JD - The bag seems extremely light, yet is still structured. How did you achieve this.
AH - As a business handbag, I wanted it to have structure, yet be lightweight and padded inside. I sourced special foam to create the structure that still allowed the bag to be lightweight. This was much more expensive an option to choose vs. what many other manufactures do. A business handbag has to be pretty and preform too. I can’t stand handbags that don’t have any structure at all or that weight too much for what they are.
You put all of your things in a bag like that and it becomes a huge mess. You might as well just carry around a trash bag! I think there should be a certain amount of organization with a business handbag. We need quick and easy access to our most common items, like keys and cell phones. Organization is important to professional, successful women.
JD- Visually, the design seems not to follow any trends. Was this a conscious choice? If so, why?
AH - Yes. I strive to design handbags that are not trendy. I prefer designs that are classic and timeless. I want my designs to have an eternal life. I have some Chanel bags that are over fifteen years old and still look modern today. I believe that if you buy a luxury handbag, it should never go out of style. It’s much harder to do something timeless, than something trendy. I like the challenge of that. Getting the Grand Career Tote right was certainly a challenge.
JD - Who do you see becoming fans of your brand? Is there a certain type of women you hope to reach?
AH - Since the Grand Career Tote is the ultimate business handbag, I can see professional women who are tired of carrying a fashion handbag and a business tote becoming huge fans. I can also see women who are a bit rebellious and think outside the box getting behind the brand as well. We’re not the European design houses. We’re something else, something different and something new with old world values and timeless design. A woman can make a statement carrying an Angelina Hart handbag and look amazing doing it.
JD- Are there any celebrities you’d like to design for?
AH - There are several actresses I would love to design for. They all have such different styles. Amy Adams, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson are a few of my favorite actresses. They all possess a timeless beauty, classic Hollywood. If I had to choose one to start with, it would be my all time favorite, Joan Collins. She is a fashion icon, forever classic and forever Alexis Carrington Colby. I loved her as Alexis in Dynasty! She has been an inspiration to me.
JD - So the Grand Career Tote your women’s leather laptop bag and the first piece of your bag collection. What should we be looking for next from Angelina Hart?
AH - I have designed a series of handbags inspired by my adventurous lifestyle. The next handbag to be revealed is an equestrian inspired bag. There are also upcoming designs that are influenced by sailing and classic Ferraris. I can see doing additional business handbags as well.