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Image / Fashion

This designer’s bags will bring you straight back to your childhood


by Niamh ODonoghue
29th Mar 2018
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If you’re desperate for some sunshine and can’t wait until summer, nab one of these bags for an instant mood-booster…


Do you remember your first beaded bag? I was roughly three years of age and I remember every aspect of it down to the smallest detail: it was tiny and bright pink with yellow and blue beading. It had a long crossbody handle that I inevitably chewed and tangled, and the beading made a delicate floral arrangement that I liked to trace my finger over again and again. It was my big girl ‘I’ve got shit to do’ bag that accompanied my plastic clicky-clacky shoes perfectly. Even at three, I was a little madam; a pretend girl-about-town, and I was proud as punch of my gorgeous bag (and it fitted all of two one-pound coins).

Thinking about those memories now makes me happy, so I was ecstatic when I discovered accessories and jewellery designer Susan Alexandra. Born and raised in the midwest of America, Susan is a unique designer, creating a niche for herself by creating and harnessing that special nostalgic feeling we love to grasp onto through fashion; that happy-in-your-head-and-heart kind of feeling.

Right; Susan Alexandra, left; bouquet bag, €254.26 courtesy of susanalexandra.com

Alexandra founded her namesake brand in 2014 beginning with jewellery using a mix of bronze, beading and metals like brightly coloured ‘beam’ earrings, hands-on bronze earrings, and hand-painted cuffs. But without a doubt, the crown jewel of Alexandra’s brand is her intricate and brilliant beaded bags that are handmade in her Manhattan studio using more than 300 individual beads. Her style is romantic, vibrant, playful and whimsical and her designs are tactical, practical and lust-worthy. She strikes a balance between kitsch and chic, and I could totally see myself arriving at a meeting; pen and notepad in one arm and beaded arm candy in the other.

“I’m fascinated by personal style. Just as a novel, a poem or a painting reflects the artist, fashion shows us the artist within,” she says on her website, reflecting on her personal taste and style; which is reflective of her abstract work. Alexandra’s influences range from Frida Kahlo’s lace gowns, Oilily patterns from the 1990s heartbreak, empathy, watermelon candies and hip-hop. She is dedicated to creating a loving, supportive community in NYC and organises gatherings to nurture and connect women. She is a Scorpio, which is important.

Alexandra has certainly struck gold for SS18: many homename brands are jumping on the nostalgia bandwagon, with high-street favourites Zara, Mango, H&M, Topshop and Uterque all replicating similar-style beaded bags (take a glance through some of my favourite in the gallery above). Although ‘it’ bags are synonymous with names like Chanel, Gucci and JW Anderson, I have a feeling Susan Alexandra’s happy, nostalgia-filled bags will be right up there with them.

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