Beginner's Guide to Designing a Handbag by Helen Rochfort
Before getting stuck into designing your own handbag, have a read of these handy hints from designer Helen Rochfort.
How to get your Design Inspiration
I have always believed in going with your instinct, what you love, what you feel inspired by, what excites you, digging deep to evoke all senses.
Initial ideas can come from absolutely anywhere: film, art, nature, music, different eras, a piece of vintage fabric, a sweet shop, a vintage boutique, even a scent or taste of your favourite chocolate or cupcake.
Carrying a little notebook or sketchbook in your handbag is a great idea. If you see something you love when you are out and about you can simply jot it down or do a quick sketch. I find using my camera on my mobile phone is extremely useful. If I see anything that’s inspiring, a quick snap and it’s captured! Images I often take when I am out and about (often with my daughters in tow) include carousels, ice cream vans, jars of sweets, candyfloss stalls, vintage toys and ornaments. Anything that catches my eye.
I will often watch old films to evoke ideas, a great source of inspiration. My favourite films being Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – sorry, Johnny Depp but the 1970s version is my favourite! – Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz. Old classic books and fairytales including Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella are also great.
Sometimes just walking around your local town and getting some fresh air is a good way to evoke those creative sparks and juices. Look at the window displays in your local deli, cake shop or boutique. In my home town of Hitchin the fantastic deli and tearooms Halsey’s has beautiful cupcakes and meringues in the window, independent boutique Rubarb has fabulous dresses and vintage shop Jolly Brown has an eclectic mix of everything vintage.
Visiting art galleries and museums is another amazing source for inspiration. I love wandering around with the family then going for tea and cake at the café, then onto the gift shop to stock up on more postcards, anything from Pop Art to pre-Raphaelite.
Your Handbag Design
When you feel you have enough ideas, make yourself a cup of tea and grab a couple of chocolate biscuits, then you can begin to look through everything you have been collecting.
Making an inspiration board is helpful and lots of fun. Add images from magazines, sparkling buttons, ribbons, textured and patterned fabric pieces, sweet wrappers, feathers and even poems. Using a large cork board is a great idea as you can add and take off any bits and pieces very easily, and when you have finished with that particular design you can reuse it for your next fabulous creation.
I find it useful to just take your time and digest all of the images and notes until your ideas start to flow. There is no right or wrong way to do this so just sketch what you think feels good – try different shapes, patterns and textures. Ask the questions: who is the handbag intended for? Is it just for you so that you’ll have a handbag that’s totally unique or are you making it for someone else? If it’s for another person what age group is the design intended for? What type of woman? Fashionista, urban, street, vintage, chic, classic, quirky or a mixture? What time of year is the handbag going to be used – is this a fresh spring/summer design, a sumptuous autumn/winter handbag or an all-year-round design? What type of handbag is it going to be – an evening bag, a shopper, a tote, a clutch?
When I am creating new designs, ideas and concepts, I often ask my friends, husband and sometimes even my eldest daughter on what they think (my youngest daughter is only one, so her feedback is wiping jammy fingers all over the designs!). Feedback is important as it gives you other perspectives and sometimes a better development of an idea.
Creating your design into a sample ‘real life handbag’ is another design process in itself, as ideas on paper may or may not translate or work on an actual working handbag. I am fortunate that we have a fantastic team in the sample rooms at the factory, where they translate my designs, sketches, ideas and working scaled drawings into the handbags that have been whirring around in my head. To create your ‘real life’ handbag from your sketches, http://www.josyrose.com/ is very good for fabrics, buttons, ribbons, handles, clasps, diamantes, motifs and zips. Everything you need to create your very own handbag masterpiece!
Whatever you do, just have fun and enjoy it. Happy creating!
To see my own handbag designs pop along to http://www.helenrochfort.com/ and take a peek.