Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fashion and Design with Katie Gallagher

People are always saying that the worlds of fashion and design often overlap, but in what ways, and how often? We sat down with a very talented local fashion designer (specifically, handbag fashion) to learn a little bit more about her background, her inspirations and her processes to see just how similar these fields really are. Katie Gallagher’s bags are creative, fun and quite stylish. If you were looking for the perfect handmade bag to compliment your great-looking space, this could be it!

What's your background like? Have you always been artsy and crafty?
Yes, I come from a very artsy background. My mother was an accomplished artist who wrote a syndicated column on art that ran in 13 states. By the way, this was back in the 70's...she was a bit of a pioneer. My sister is also an accomplished artist and I grew up being a model in art classes.

Where does your inspiration take place? How do you come up with new designs?
Hmm, my inspiration.........well, I honor those who came before me, Fendi, Henry Beguelin, Carlos Falchi, Nancy Gonzalez. However, it is the handmade craftsman that gets my juices flowing. Santa Fe, New Mexico has long been a place I go to be inspired by originality and old world craftsmanship. I find it ridiculous that people pay what they do for a purse that they can get at 3 different stores on the same block.

Describe a little bit about your process from the beginning of an idea to the finished products (sketches, acquiring materials, etc.)
I don’t sketch anything. I have made some patterns but mostly not. The crocodile bags become what the hell they want to be. I throw them on the floor and they determine based on color, size and shape how they want to be worn. Sounds weird but that’s the deal. Same with the springbok. The python has caused me yet again, to study another craftsmanship...wallpapering. I really try hard to match up the patterns so that it’s a continuous flow. I’ve noticed that the big designers don’t do it, but I think it honors the animal to make it as pretty as I can. I think its why a lot of the big designers do mostly solid color snakeskin bags.... its just easier.

Where do you get some of the materials you use to make your bags? Is it real moose, elk, snake?
You mention on your website that your bags are eco-friendly. Could you explain in what way? I use and have always used all authentic materials. I started with the beaded fringed bags. I still have the first one I ever made.... I baked the beads into the clay, like the Native Americans and then I eventually beaded on braintan. Elk, deer, cowhide, moose, springbok, snakeskin, crocodile...all real. Its imperative for people to know that anything I use is under the United States, Fish and Game's strictest laws. No black-marketing here. It’s utmost to preserve the species and if you're on the up and up, you're helping, not hurting the population. Also, I use vegetable tanned hides that ensure the leather isn’t screwing with the environment with toxic dyes. Since everything I use is of the earth, it's biodegradable. No carbon footprint with my bags.

What the most difficult thing about making bags?
Wow! When I’m designing a bag, I find the most daunting part of the process is the straps. There are so many ways to approach this. I usually try and make all my bags with a convertible strap. It can be a shoulder bag or convert into a cross body bag. Since I’ve been a hair stylist all my life, I’ve had major back and neck problems. It’s imperative for me to carry a lightweight bag that can be adjusted according to my needs. So in short...the strap is my issue because not every bag can be worn like that.

What's the most rewarding thing about making your handbags?
Well, the most rewarding aspect is when I’ve created something I’ve never seen before...that always blows my mind. Just when you think its "already been done" then you do something extraordinary its always a thrill. And of course, when I’m out and about and people comment on my bags I’m thrilled. I was at Nordstrom the other day checking out the Muxo line and a woman approached me and asked if I was a bag designer (I guess the way I was looking at the bag was a dead giveaway) she admired my bag and asked for my card. That was a nice moment for me...especially since she didn’t like the other stuff in the store!!!

Describe a typical client who wears your handbags.
The person who will be drawn to my work will have an appreciation for the arts, craftsmanship and an eye for something unique. My bags are not for the faint of heart. They are bold statement pieces and they will wear you if you're not careful.... but they are beautiful and they will definitely draw some attention. Cameron Diaz is someone Id like to wear my bags.........she has a great vibe, she's definitely someone whose personality is big enough and colorful enough to give the bag the platform it deserves. I guess a gutsy girl who tends to be a little politically incorrect with a sense of fashion AND humor would be my best customer. I’m inspired by Anita Pallenberg's style...I would love to make a bag for her...Google her! Since fashion and design are so connected, describe your personal design style.

What does your home look like?
Do you bring any of these exotic materials into your own home decor? I am a child of the 70's. I wear jeans everyday. I funk it up with boots, belts, jewelry and my bags... Anita Pallenberg, Patti Harrison Clapton. The girls from Kings Road, late 60's and 70’s are where I draw my style from. Ah, to have been there even for a moment!

No comments: