What I Didn’t Buy – Vintage-looking Handbag

I spotted this handbag in an antique mall recently, and I wasn’t fooled for a second.  From the thick clunky double chain to the plasticy faux-leather everything just screamed “NEW!”  But there was something about the details that made me take a second look.  Someone was clearly inspired by the work of Bonnie Cashin for Coach, circa 1964.

Well now, that makes perfect sense.  Isaac Mizrahi has long named Bonnie Cashin as one of his own design heroes, along with Claire McCardell and Geoffrey Beene.

One thing I like and admire about Mizrahi is that he does have a great sense of where fashion has been.  He knows his fashion history and does not mind pulling from it.  Early in his career, back in the 1980s, he was criticized for pulling a bit too much; that many designs were more Beene than Mizrahi.  Using the Target handbag as an example though, you can immediately see the influence, but not for a moment would anyone who knows her work be deceived into thinking she was the designer.

There is a big difference between inspiration and copying.   Copying is easy. You look at a design and reproduce it.  But inspiration involves taking the best feature of a previous design, and infusing your own sense of aesthetic  and creating something new.

I’ve been thinking about copying because I’m considering a huge sewing challenge – that of making a copy of a Chanel jacket.  Encouragement is greatly appreciated!



Filed under I Didn't Buy...

14 responses to “What I Didn’t Buy – Vintage-looking Handbag

  1. I’ve always appreciated the retro influence of Mizrahi’s designs too!

    When it comes to copying something vintage, unless it’s a costume, I try to use modern details/fabric or finishing techniques to keep it from looking too out of place in modern life. For my current project using a 1939 dress pattern, I used bright colors and factory-like seam finishing. And I didn’t bother with the suggested bond buttonholes because it’s a casual cotton dress.

    Copying a Chanel jacket would be a wonderful thing! It’s the best way to get the authentic amazing fit because it will be made especially for you. Go for it! =)


  2. I would if I could! Definitely!


  3. Teresa

    I’d love to see your copy of a Chanel jacket. Go for it!


  4. Julie Eilber

    Lizzie, I recently saw a picture of a Bonnie Cashin tent dress with coin purse pockets like that.


  5. You just have to make that jacket. It would be wonderful to have “in the stages” updates. It might encourage some of us other seamstresses to make our own!


  6. You must make a copy of a Chanel jacket! That would be a wonderful thing to do.
    As for copying, so much fashion is copies either from the past or from designers, it’s sometimes hard to determine what’s original and what’s not until closer inspection, especially with accessories. I find it a problem all the time buying ‘vintage’ online!


  7. Since I have no Chanel jacket to copy, I made Claire Shaeffer’s version. It was a long journey! Here’s my review on Pattern Review: http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/readreview.pl?reviewnum=79296&readreview=1


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