Although her bags are known worldwide and beloved by stylish celebs such as Alexa Chung, Rebecca Hudgens, Reese Witherspoon, Eve, Michelle Trachtenberg, Charlotte Kemp Muhl, Blake Lively, Leighton Meester and Agyness Deyn (who reportedly owns more than 100 of them), Rebecca Minkoff might well be called The Accidental Handbag Designer.
A lifelong seamstress (Minkoff began sewing at eight and designed and made her own Bat Mitvah dress), the San Diego native is entirely self-taught, and moved to New York after high school to follow her dream. She launched a small ready-to-wear collection in 2001 and in 2005, her actress pal Jenna Elfman suggested that Minkoff make her a bag for an upcoming film. Faster than you can say "Dharma & Greg," Rebecca Minkoff found herself helming a successful bag company, led by cool-girl styles such as the Matinée and the Morning After Bag.
Today, Minkoff's bags come fringed, studded and zippered in every color and animal print imaginable. She re-introduced ready-to-wear in 2009 and added shoes for spring 2011, mounting her first runway show this past February, with girls strutting down the runway in stovepipe trousers, slouchy sweaters, fur-trimmed trench coats, leopard jumpsuits and leather bombers while The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (aka, Charlotte Kemp Muhl and her beau, Sean Lennon) played live.
The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden caught up with Minkoff—who is expecting her first child this fall with hubby Gavin Bellour—to dish on first kisses, cupcakes and irrational fears.
What's your favorite dessert?
Flourless chocolate cake or, if I need to get an insulin shot after a meal, a Magnolia cupcake.
Best movie you've seen in the past month?
I wish I had seen a movie in the past month! I've been on the road doing trunk shows. But Dirty Dancing was on and it reminded me how much I loved that movie.
Any upcoming projects or collaborations in the works?
My baby! I am working on that and trying to figure out life and work and family and how it's all going to happen at once! I am due right after fashion week, so that should be interesting....
City or country?
City with weekends in the country. I need to get out sometimes and refresh and have space—and grass.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Yes, and I got it with my husband.
What would you like to be doing (dream occupation) if you weren't a designer?
I would be a dancer in the Alvin Ailey Company and then retire and be a choreographer.
What's the one beauty/grooming product you cannot live without?
What websites do you read regularly?
My good friends Fiona and Agy's blog Naag. I get a ton of inspiration from Bohemian Punk and I also love Cosmic Dust.
What makes for a perfect handbag?
Style without being so trendy that you have to give it up after a season. Utilitarian on the inside, leather that ages like a fine wine.
What one piece of advice would you give a designer just starting?
Get ready to give this your all, work 80 hours a week, not know when or who your next paycheck is going to come from and be persistent. I am only here because I never believed that giving up was an option.
What made a more lasting impression on you: your first car or your first kiss?
First kiss! He was 18 and I was 14 which looking back is CREEPY. But at the time I was so excited!
What's your favorite mode of transportation?
If I could ride my bike (complete with a basket) all over all the time I would be very happy.
What freaks you out?
Zombies and irrational things like sharks in pools.
When are you happiest?
When I am in the sunshine. I worship it and am ok with having wrinkles when I am older.