“I fell into bag design quite by accident. I was a fashion photographer who was bag obsessed and designed my first bag for myself. This bag went with me to my photo shoots and the models and editors were really interested so I started taking orders. My first bag was made in April 2003 and by July we were in Barneys!”
So said Monica Botkier of the evolution of her eponymous line of handbags, which can now, of course, be spotted on the arms of stylish women everywhere. This season, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of her company, Botkier has added a collection of sweetly sleek shoes to her repertoire (from chic sandals and ballet flats to glamorous stilettos to mod ankle booties). “Our new shoes, like our bags, celebrate sensuality with a fresh approach to color and form,” says Botkier, herself the epitome of downtown cool. “Plus, they’re comfortable!” Spoken like a true, walk-everywhere New Yorker.
The Fashion Informer nabbed a few minutes with the accidental designer on the eve of her shoe collection launch (which is, not coincidentally, available on Botkier’s recently revamped e-com site).
What is your idea of a perfect meal?
Jamaican food like jerk wings, rice and peas, and plantains at my hubby’s new restaurant Spur Tree on Orchard Street. I feel like I’m there every day!
What are the main websites you read every day?
Botkier.com – we just redesigned and I am constantly going over it to make even more changes! Besides that I love this one, The Fashion Informer, for the fashion scoops and reports, as well as some of the purse blogs to see what people are saying about handbags specifically.
Who is your favorite musician/band of all time?
Led Zeppelin. I’m a classic rock head, they are a sexy and badass band - timeless. too. I also love Nina Simone, though.
What would you like to be doing if you weren't an accessories designer?
Probably continue with my photography career, I shoot all Botkier’s ad campaigns and pics of my 3-year-old daughter, though that’s it now. Other than that, an archaeologist.
Tell me about your best friend.
My husband is my best friend. We go way back and ran around NYC in our early days as friends so he knows me better than anyone.
When you were 9, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Believe it or not a fashion designer, I used to sketch outfits I wished I owned. I was very into clothing then and had to beg my mom to buy me lots of things I probably didn’t need thus I didn’t always succeed. I suppose I enjoyed the prospect of creating what I wanted.
Coffee or tea?
Both! Decaf lattes and English Breakfast with agave and milk.
What beauty/grooming item could you not live without?
Origins Barely There Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15. Light coverage and protection from the sun on a daily basis without thinking about it.
What is your favorite city in the world?
Besides New York (I grew up here) I would have to say Vientiane in Laos. I traveled there many years ago, and there was such a sleepy romantic quality and slightly forgotten grandeur that it sticks with me to this day.
Tell me about your most cherished item of clothing or piece of jewelry.
My father is an avid collector of antique jewelry and so he has passed a few pieces on to me. Each piece has history and he is so enthusiastic about them that they become even more special. Right now it’s a 1930’s onyx and diamond ring that is so striking because it has gold and silver tones set against black onyx - a very unique and edgy aesthetic despite its era.
Who is your favorite actor/actress of all time and what is your favorite movie they've done?
Debra Winger in “Urban Cowboy” and “An Officer and a Gentleman.” She was so real, tough and soft like all women can be. Beautiful in an unconventional way.
What is your favorite restaurant?
Spur Tree at 76 Orchard Street between Broome and Grand. Besides the food being delicious - just the right mix of hearty and spicy - the vibe is very chill and laid back.
For what will you be arrested (hypothetically speaking)?
What never fails to make you cry?
Films about triumphant moments in people’s personal lives. Anything to do with children particularly. “Terms of Endearment” (doesn’t that make everyone cry?). Reading the newspaper inevitably makes me cry, too.
When are you happiest?
When my daughter wakes me up in the morning with a big kiss and a smile.
Please complete the following sentence: If Hillary Clinton wins the Presidential election...
I’d say it’s about f***king time a woman got the chance to do this.
Stay tuned next week for Random Questions For...Lulu Guinness.
Photos courtesy of Botkier