Friday, June 6, 2014

Channeling Coco Chanel with a Classic Black And White Leather Bag Design

Usually I let the materials that I am upcycling guide my designs.  I dismantle the treasured item, see what it has to offer, and start designing from there.  But I suppose a good bit of internal design sense comes through too as I envision what I can do and what the end result should be.  I rarely try to imitate a designer's look, or another bag, or try to make something that is "in style," but rather I focus on the overall usability of the bag and of course its general "look."  I try to design functional, yet classic, designs that look cool, but will also be used for years to come.  

But I have to assume that I am influenced by things that I see out there (magazines, the internet, TV, real life).  My ideas don't come out of nowhere!  And I recently realized that I find myself tending towards Chanel's designs - both vintage and current.  

Chanel, pearls,whiteChanel

I love the classic, classy and relaxed look.  Right up my alley.  

And - oh, to have those pearls some day!

I also like Coco's attitude and advice on being a stylish woman:


And then I recently watched the movie "Coco Before Chanel," and really got on board with the whole Coco thing!  And you KNOW I loved her design house in Paris - ahhh - a designer's dream come true!


And sometimes I think without realizing it I am incorporating some of Chanel's iconic style into some of my designs (classic lines, simplicity, etc.). 

But this week I had Coco Chanel on my mind, and when I saw a luscious pair of outdated black lambskin pants next to a few pieces of gray-white suede in my studio I set out to craft my own Chanel-inspired tote, which I am now calling:

The Uptown Coco Tote.  Here's to you, Coco Chanel!
Upcycled Bags Handmade in New Orleans

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Recycling an American Legend: Transforming a Harley Davidson Leather Jacket into Upcycled Leather Handbags

Upcycling an American Classic into new handbags by Uptown Redesigns

Have an outdated leather coat you don't wear anymore?  Here's a quick recap of Uptown Redesigns' most recent custom transformation project. Have a look, and maybe you'll be ready to part with your beloved old coat after reading this!

This charming woman from Texas had a vintage Harley Davidson leather jacket that she used to wear "back in the day," but she just did not wear anymore.  It sat in her closet, unused - a memory of her past days spent on the Harley with her husband.  The coat, a gift from her husband, held a special place in her heart and memories, and she did not want to just give it away.  She was ready to give it a new life and have it turn into a handbag: my specialty!   She did extensive internet research for somebody like me, and said that when she saw my work she just knew I was her "bag lady!" And so it began...

Client - back in the day in the Harley Davidson coat with their Harley Davidson bike
She gave me a few design requests/specifications, and also told me about her past and current style.  She described herself as "classic with a bit of funk" (love it!) and although she used to dress more eclectically years ago (complete with a floor length fringe handbag!), she is a bit more conservative these days.  Yet - she did not want to let go of the funk all together in the new bag design.  She felt confident that I could create the perfect design for her that blended all of her styles - past and present.

And so - I was left alone with this American Classic - the beautiful Harley Jacket!  So full of character and possibilities!  

She asked that I use as much of the coat as possible. No problem - there were so many details that were just too good to overlook! 

Zippers, Rivets

Belt Buckle and Zipper Pull

I have actually been dying to get my hands on an authentic Harley jacket for years, but people (understandably) have a hard time parting with them.  So you can imagine my excitement when this job came my way!  But I have to admit - I was a little nervous to cut this one up as it was still in very good condition, and looked great as it was on the hanger.  It also held so many memories for my client and she really, really cared what happened to it.  In other words, there was no room for error!

As I got started, I had to chuckle while noticing that our "American Legend" was actually "Made in Korea!"  At least I was going to have a part in bringing it back to America in some fashion! 

An American Legend... Made in Korea!  

And after much design thought, I carefully dismantled the coat...

... and was left with this pile of leather pieces and a head full of design possibilities and ideas!  Very exciting, indeed!

And after a little Uptown Redesigns magic, I was able to craft two new bags. 

The first one is a shoulder bag and looks like this: 

Both labels: Harley Davidson and Uptown Redesigns
Able to reuse the zipper

Recognize those rivets?

 And the next bag is a smaller cross body bag that looks like this:


And luckily I have a very happy client that looks like this!!  She LOVES her bags and is thrilled to pieces!!

There you have it - an American Classic from "back in the day" transformed into another American classic for today, modeled by an American beauty living in Texas.  Many, many thanks to my lovely (and trusting) client!! 

Have your own coat ready for transformation?  Read more about the custom process here.
Upcycled Bags Handmade in New Orleans