August 30, 2014

Bags of Style

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Do you regard the bags in your closet as more than just accessories? I’ve always felt that bags, just like jewelry, become part of our identity. We can express the different sides of our personalities with different bags—without changing our entire outfit. If you’re required to wear a uniform or comply with a specific dress code, your bag becomes an even more important statement with which to express your style.
 

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I recently came across a collection of handmade bags crafted by an artist who takes a sculptural approach to her designs to bring out the natural beauty of the materials she uses. “For me it is more about form and spirit of design,” says Barbara Snyderman, the Fort Myers-based bag and jewelry designer. She combines materials such as butter-soft leathers with other elements such as bone, horn, shells, grasses and textiles from all over the world to create extraordinary tactile contrasts. Even silk fabrics are reworked using ancient Japanese dyeing techniques to produce unique patterns and textures.
 

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I was particularly taken by some European World War II military bags, where the khaki color of the canvas had been stripped out, and hand-painted details—flowers, a woman’s face and other touches—were added. With the original buckles, straps and other hardware retained, the juxtaposition of the strong, utilitarian nature of the bags set against the flowing, feminine artwork is striking and unexpected. “Recyled” doesn’t quite do justice to these pieces. The desginer calls them “repurposed”—a perfect description.
 

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Iris clutch bag; leather bag with horn handle, military repurposed bags, all from BabS Designs, 16205 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers.