A few weeks ago I went to preview Mary Norton’s Holiday collection which will be in stores in October/November and I had the chance to meet the affable designer who was wonderfully gracious and gave me some insight into her lovely handbags.
Even though Norton’s handbags are widely sold in nearly two hundred stores worldwide, including several Saks Fifth Avenue stores and Harrods in London – and even though celebrities including Sharon Stone, Queen Latifah, Nicole Richie, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, and Oprah Winfrey have all worn her creations, Norton is still somewhat under the mainstream radar. That said, if you catch sight of an inspired and imaginative handbag on the red carpet, chances are it’s one of Norton’s designs.
Mary Norton’s handbag line started about 10 years ago, after the designer was diagnosed with lupus. Norton, wanting to turn sadness into positivism, envisioned herself creating a collection of inspired and imaginative accessories. With that in mind, the designer began crafting her first line of handbags, which she named Moo Roo (based on the nicknames she had given her two daughters), right on her kitchen table.
One fashion-savvy friend saw the novelty in Norton’s whimsical designs, and brought a few of Mary’s handbags to a small boutique in Charleston, SC – Norton’s hometown. The boutique bought a handful of Mary’s bags and they sold-out within a few days.
The seemingly fairytale story continues with last year’s endorsement of Dawn Mello’s (best known as the former president of Bergdorf Goodman and once Gucci creative director), Atelier Fund, the new fashion group at Richemont. Richemont’s other investments include Cartier, Mont Blanc, Chloé, and Van Cleef and Arpels.
As for Norton’s latest line of handbags, the whimsical designer says that she drew her inspiration from Joan Jet & the Blackhearts, Mid-century architecture in Scottsdale AZ, and Slim Aaron’s 1960’s cocktail crowd – what an eclectic mix.
Her Spring 2009 collection will be previewed mid-September.