It’s all gone into her handbag: The upstairs dresser in her grandparent’s Midwest farmhouse, memories of dressing up in vintage clothes, ballet and tap dance classes. For Kathleen Friedman, finalist for the Independent Handbag Designer Award, her sources of inspiration are as suggestive of a romance novel as they are for accessories design.
“My bag was inspired by vintage Americana,” says Kathleen, current Accessories Design major. “I loved exploring my grandparents’ house in the Midwest. I especially loved a dresser in one of the bedrooms.” An ornately shaped bedroom mirror there was the influence for the outer flap of her handbag.The hand stitched trapunto, a decorative design on the outer flap, is a technique Kathleen learned in a leather course at FIT. “I knew I had to incorporate it into one of my designs. It’s so beautiful and sophisticated. It can be applied in several ways, and I chose to hand stitch it as a tribute to my grandmother and her beautiful quilts.”
In early May it was announced that FIT’s Kathleen Friedman, Stephanie Carnes and Palwasha Iqbal were finalists in the category of Best Student Made Bag by the IHDA. The winner is to be announced on June 18 at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan.
“I chose black and cream for this bag because of my vintage inspirations. This was the first time I knew exactly the colors I wanted from the moment I drew it. Normally I take a lot of time at the leather store searching for the right color combinations and allowing that to inspire me in the process.”As a child, Kathleen helped her mother, a seamstress, and played in her studio. “I have been sewing since the age of nine. The knowledge is extremely helpful in all of my construction classes at FIT.”Kathleen says she is thankful for the exposure the contest gives student designers. “I am hopeful that it will help in my quest for employment after graduation. It’s exciting to show my friends and family all of the press.”