Interview With Handbag Designer, Paige Gamble, On Her Busiest Season Yet

by guestofaguest · June 19, 2009

[Photos by Seana Cavanagh]

We sat down with handbag designer Paige Gamble in the middle of a whirlwind of a busy season. With Whitney Port trotting out her Paige Gamble clutch with her Luca Luca gown at the 2009 CDFAs, trunk shows at Bergdorfs and Bendels, and the opening of a summer shop in the Hamptons, this designer has never been more in demand. In 2005, Gamble left her career in finance in New York City to create her own exotic leather handbag label. Her eponymous collection of one-of-a-kind clutches, totes and headpieces is most recognized now for her partnering of precious leathers such as alligator, stingray, anaconda, lizard, and crocodile with exotic gemstones and minerals from around the world...

[Paige Gamble's Last Trunk Show]

What propelled your jump from Wall Street to Madison Avenue? How did you get started in Fashion? It all started with a photo in the March 2002 issue of Harpers Bazaar. There was this shot of a YSL clutch studded in turquoise. I saw that bag and fell in love. I spent a year tracking it down, and when I finally got it, I was inspired to make more with different stones and in different shapes. When it got to the point that I couldn't concentrate at work, I had to leave and start my own line.

How would you describe the “Paige Gamble” girl? I like to think there is one perfect person out there for each bag I make, and my most important job is to make that match. So the Paige Gamble client is as many different women as bags we've made. What they have in common is that they want to be moved by what they buy. They've seen it all, they know the brands and what's available, and they are looking for something unusual and emotional.

From where do you draw your inspiration? I'm very inspired by design outside of fashion - architecture, art, history, etc. I love to use objects and techniques that originate somewhere far from accessory design (tattooing, flower pressing, jade carving) and honor it on a bag.

How often do new Paige Gamble bags come out? Weekly. We're non-seasonal, so I can take daily inspiration and translate it into a bag immediately.

How do you want your line to be different? The line started out so differently - making one bag at a time, using jade carvings and natural crystals to adorn the bags, ignoring seasons......and it has stayed that way. I understand why most bag companies design seasons a year in advance, since that is how the big stores order, but at least for now, I just can't work that way. I want to design for winter when the leaves start changing, not when I've just started wearing summer clothes. I'm very grateful to be able to do that.

You are known to have a new favorite bag every week. What is your favorite this week? A soft lavender python clutch. No ornamentation. Not my usual style, but so romantic and easy.

What's your best seller right now? Natural Empire Python totes - can't keep them in!

When dressing for a night out, what comes first for you: the outfit or the bag? What is your personal style? The Bag, of course! Then some easy clothes, and killer shoes.

Leighton Meester just sported a Paige Gamble headpiece on the Gossip Girl season finale last month. What prompted you to begin designing headpieces? Leighton Meester! Blair, that is. The line was heavily inspired by her character's style.

What’s next for the line? We are so excited to be opening a summer store in Southampton on July 1st. We just hosteda trunk show for our hair accessories at Bergdorfs this week and will be hosting one for our bags at Henri Bendels on June 25-27.

Tell us some of your quintessential New York fashion moments. I just walked past Olivier Theyskens on Madison Avenue......

What’s on your summer “must” list? BerryWild Yogurt, Bravo TV, Jobs Lane