Never heard of
Brooklyn-based accessories label Hayden-Harnett?That’s about to change, thanks to the new, limited edition handbag
collection the HH designers, Toni Hacker and Ben Harnett, just did for Target.
duo’s signature bag shapes – the Flight Tote, the Double-Flap Bag - in new
fabrications for the masstige market (with a patterned bumbershoot thrown in
for good measure), the Hayden-Harnett for Targetcollection is sure to bring Hacker and Harnett a little mass(tige) recognition
of their own.
Not that they’ve
been toiling in anonymity, mind you.Since launching their line of modern classics on April Fool’s Day, 2005,
Hayden-Harnetthas been featured in the pages of every major fashion mag around and is now carried
in retailers from New York (Barneys) to Tokyo (Tomorrowland). They even added a
capsule clothing collection to the range not long ago, to great success.
difference between designing the Target collection and their own line?Ummm, not very much, as it turns out.
“The thought, print
development and design approach for the Target collection was exactly the same
as for our own collection - style, quality, function and uniqueness,” said
Hacker, who hails from Kentucky (her partner in crime hails from Upstate New
York). “The only real difference is that we didn't do the Target collection
The Fashion Informer
nabbed some time with the creative couple a few weeks before Christmas to get
the low-down on their unusual hobbies (prank calls, anyone?), unusually named
felines, and fondest holiday memories.
So, Toni and Ben…
Why handbags and accessories?
Toni: I love leather
and I love bags.
Ben: They're useful
and they have a lot of different interesting aspects to their design.
Tell me about your favorite spot in Brooklyn.
Toni: I love the
piers in Long Island City across from the UN building. I love it because
there's water, there's a gigantic Pepsi sign, I love the UN, I love seeing
the city from a distance and the piers look super-cool and industrial.
Ben: I love Grand
Army Plaza, and the Brooklyn Museum and Botanical Garden. I used to live around
there. There's something great about Prospect Park and the farmer's market, and
the whole neighborhood has a great feel there, very European almost.
What time do you usually get up the morning and
what's your typical routine, from getting out of bed to the time you get to
wakes me up, so it's really her call.
Ben: I get up around
7, and work at home for a couple of hours before getting into the office to
work more. I get a lot done in the quiet of the morning with NPR in the
What's your favorite holiday?
Toni: Do I have to
be honest? If I need to be honest, I will say none of the above. Can't we make
up some new holidays? Like, #2 pencil day day! I might get super excited about
Ben: I actually love
the Fourth of July. It's pretty corny, but there's something about it.
When not designing accessories, studying
painting and writing encyclopedias, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Ben: I'm working on
several paintings, and I have a huge stack of half-filled-in crossword puzzles
that I refuse to look up the answers for.
Other than designing accessories, studying
painting and writing encyclopedias, do you have any hidden or unusual talents?
Toni: I'm very good
at imitating voices and make great prank calls.
Ben: There are a
number of talents I don't have that I wish I did – like juggling, or singing,
or tightrope walking. I can play the piano reasonably well, and spent a
long time learning to read and write ancient Greek. I don't know if
that's a talent.
How does life in Brooklyn differ from life in
Kentucky/Upstate New York?
Toni: I work a
lot more and don't have to be home at 10.
Ben: You can't leave
the door unlocked or the keys in the car!
You have two cats, Pywhackit and Daisy.
Could you tell me how they got their names?
Toni: Pywhackit J.
Cat, our 13-year-old Siamese, was named in honor of Kim Novak's familiar from
the movie "Bell, Book, and Candle.” Nobody knows what the J stands
for...she just added it one day. Daisy, our two-year-old Brooklyn black and
white tomgirl stray, was named by our art director, Mimi Eayrs. Her full name
is now Daisy Lola Taco-Tico Alice Munro.
Ben: Well, that's
What's your favorite Christmas memory?
Toni: The time my
drunken Uncle David tried to shimmy down a faux chimney in a Santa outfit and
became stuck. I was nine. It was Christmas. There was wood paneling and
Ben: Can't beat
Global warming: fact or fiction?
Ben: I think that
may have been a legitimate question to ask in 1990. Not now.
What music do you listen to while working?
Toni: I tend to
design collections around a particular album or group of artists, so this
varies. The fall ‘09 vibe is old-school Siouxsie and the Banshees, Grizzly
Bear, Delta 5, Department of Eagles, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, and
The Rolling Stones.
Ben: I'm pretty
heavily loaded with Bob Dylan from his Christian rock phase. Odd, I know, but
it helps me get work done.
What did you do last weekend and what are your
plans for this weekend?
Toni: Last Saturday,
packing shipments for customers at our warehouse. Sunday, brunch review/date
with Ben for Page 6 at Clover Club. This Saturday,
recovering from the HH holiday party. Sunday, 12/14, was my birthday, which I
proudly share with Nostradamus and Patty Duke.
Ben: Yep, that's
what we did! I cooked lasagna, and wrapped up Toni's presents.
What exotic locale would you most like to visit?
Petersburg, Russia because of the fantastic history, architecture and vodka.
Ben: I've always
wanted to see the pyramids.
What never fails to make you cry?
Toni: Every time I
see "The Color Purple,” it's a complete engineered breakdown.
Ben: I've gotten a
lot more emotional these days, and I am not sure why. I tear up at both
the sublime and the most mundane things when I am reading or watching a movie.
Since launching her eponymous label a
little over a decade ago, New Zealand-based designer Karen Walker has shown
collections inspired by Annie Hall, Amelia Earhart, pickpockets and
revolutionaries, Ally Sheedy’s character in “The Breakfast Club, and 1930s
comic book super heroines.
The thread that ties them all
nonchalant aesthetic and devotion to unique prints - designed with her creative
director hubby, Mikhail Gherman - and great tailoring, which results
in fashionably effortless clothing that stylish girls (Sienna Miller, Cate
Blanchett, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Lopez, Liv Tyler, Madonna, Kate Winslet) can’t
get enough of.
In addition to her twice-yearly
runway shows (which relocated from London to New York Fashion Weeks a few years
ago), Walker also
designs eyewear, cosmetics, jewelry and even a paint collection, all of which
are sold throughout the US, UK, Asia, Australia and, of course, her native New
The Fashion Informer caught up with
the real-life fashion heroine a few weeks before Christmas to see how she
manages to juggle motherhood, work and all the rest of it.
different between living/working in New Zealand and New York?
The physical isolation.
books are currently on your nightstand?
Virginia Woolf's “Flush.” I love her
and this is a tiny and slightly silly biography of her friend's spaniel. It's
only 100 pages long but it's been on my nightstand for months as I very rarely
get to read these days. My other book is “What To Expect Of the Toddler Years,” which
gives a hint as to why I haven't finished the Virginia Woolf yet.
Connery or Daniel Craig?
Daniel Craig. Going to see the new
one on Thursday. Can't wait.
your favorite flower?
your material of choice when sketching your designs?
2b pencil and a Zeta pad.
did you do last weekend and what are your plans for this weekend?
Summer's just started here. Last
weekend was beautiful. We had our first weekend by the pool at home and I swam
on both days. Also did a little yoga, a mani/pedi, some cookie baking and had
a few glasses of wine. Heaven. Next weekend, hopefully a repeat.
did you have for lunch today?
A pumpkin and arugula sandwich.
long does it take you to get ready for work in the morning (from the time you
get up to the time you leave the house)?
About two hours. The baby wakes at 6.30
and from then 'til nanny arrives at 8.30 it's a crazy jumble involving toy
boxes, steamed pear and raisins all over the floor.
I live in the mountains but I love
the ocean, too, which thankfully is only 20 minutes away.
do you relax/recharge after a long, hard day?
“Coronation Street.” It's one of
the longest running soaps in the world, set in Manchester. I've been watching
it since I was in the womb.
look up from your computer (or wherever you're answering these questions) and
describe what you see around you.
me about your best friend.
He leaves his socks all over the
floor and has a terrible memory and isn't very good at unloading the
dishwasher. He's also colorblind. But he's a genius and I love him.
tell me about your favorite item of clothing or jewelry and why it's so special
My Karen Walker gold runaway girl
pendant. I wear her every day and she brings me luck.
you found $15,000 cash in a brown paper bag, how would you spend it?
Six months ago I would have said put
it in the bank but now I'd say bury it in the backyard.
never fails to make you cry?
Mean things happening to puppies and
kittens in movies.
are you happiest?
Last weekend when I was having my
first swim of summer.
Pairing “femininity with
imperfection” is Koi Suwannagate’s stock-in-trade, and since launching her eponymous
collection in 2001, this modern approach has won the designer a legion of
devoted fans, drawn to her ethereally embellished, hand-sculpted creations,
which are equal parts girly and grrrr.
The Bangkok-born, Los
Angeles-based designer made her New York Fashion Week debut in 2007 and, in
2008, was named a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist.More recently, WWD included Suwannagate’s among their Top
Ten collections for Spring 2009, alongside Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Dries van Noten,
Lanvin and Giorgio Armani – pretty impressive company for an emerging designer
to find herself in.
The Fashion Informer
tracked down Suwannagate on the eve of the Koi websitelaunch
to talk food, travel and the importance of taste.
is your favorite getaway spot?
San Francisco, with good wine and
you sketch your designs, what are your materials of choice?
books are you currently reading?
Yourself Slim. I just learned that you can snack all day without actually
is your favorite holiday?
Christmas because it's all about
family, joy and laughter.
three things are always in your fridge?
Organic milk, rice and chocolate.
you cook and, if so, what is your specialty?
When I have time I like to make a
chicken stew. When less time I'll make sushi rolls with cucumber.
What's your favorite holiday food
Hot chocolate by the fireplace and
Cask 23 Cabernet from Stag's Leap.
your go-to mani/pedi color?
to you, is the most important sense (touch, taste, sight, smell, sound)?
Taste - it's consuming to one’s mind.
pro or con?
magazines and newspapers do you read regularly?
Various fashion magazines, WWD, The
World of Interiors, Los Angeles Times.
never fails to make you cry?
are you happiest?
When I am with my friends and family
in the most beautiful place.
Vera Wang opened her first ready-to-wear boutique in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood - showcasing her designer collection and Lavender line - and last night was the kick off party, which functioned as a mini-reunion between the Vogue-editor-turned-designer and her former colleagues, with Anna Wintour, Meredith Melling Burke and Virginia Smith stopping by to pay their respects, the last with her hubby, Gap designer Patrick Robinson, and their adorable son in tow.
When asked how she managed to keep the quality of her recently-launched Kohl's line, Simply Vera Vera Wang (with which we have something of an obsession) so high, Wang said, "I work hard at it. I really do. I don't just sign my name off to anything, and I think of what modern girls want and how modern girls dress. That's what important to me. That's who I am. Not only as a designer, but as a person - as a woman and a consumer."
And how did she came to choose Soho as a location for her first ready-to-wear flagship - worlds away from her two Madison Avenue bridal boutiques?
"I thought it was the perfect place for our ready-to-wear and Lavender, near people I admire like Prada and Marni and Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu and whoever else is around the block!"
You can read more about last night's event over at Vogue.com.