Tag Archives: Hyatt 48 Lex

Let the judging begin…Again!

Despite the amazing weather we’ve been having in New York lately, I was invited to spend it indoors (air-conditioned of course) at the Hyatt 48 Lex this past Sunday.  For the third year in a row, I’ve been asked to be on the preliminary judging panel for the Handbag Designer Awards.

For those of you unfamiliar, Emily Blumenthal is the founder of the HBD Network.  Home to Handbagdesigner101.com, The Independent Handbag Designer Awards and author of Handbag Designer 101: Everything You Need to Know About Designing, Making, and Marketing Handbags.  Emily has earned herself the title of industry’s leading handbag scout who’s recently been on the casting panel for Project Runway’s spinoff, Project Accessory.  She is also their official blogger.

A process that began back in December, interested candidates were encouraged to submit some of their latest designs to one of the following categories-Best Overall in Style & Design, Student Made, Best Handmade, Best Green, Most Socially Responsible and Fan Favorite.  With over a 1000 applicants who applied worldwide, the chances of becoming the next big name within the handbag world is like winning the lottery-slim to none.

Although if lucky to be chosen as a finalist, winners announced at the Handbag Designer Awards in June here in New York, are given opportunities to have their lines featured in major fashion magazine’s like Instyle, who has partnered with Emily for several years now and features the winners in their September issue.  Along with free publicity, the overall winner will receive a complimentary booth at one of the largest fashion trade shows in the US-WWD Magic, have their line picked up at Bloomingdale’s and a collaboration with this years iconoclast recipient Rafe.

Past winners include Clara Kasavina, who won 2011’s red carpet ready category.   Since their win, their evening style handbags have been seen in magazine’s like American Vogue, Instyle, Teen Vogue and Lucky.  They’ve also been spotted on the red carpet adorning celebs like Leslie Mann, Rihanna and Catherine Zeta-Jones.  I even had the opportunity to pull several pieces for supermodel Coco Rocha for an appearance in New York.

Bloomingdale’s and Henri Bendel’s have expressed interest in carrying their line since being recognized, and they are now being sold at various boutiques internationally.

Rouzita & Bita Vahhabaghai have also experienced this kind of success since winning in the overall category last year.  Their line ita was quickly picked up by Sak’s 5th Avenue and Intermix.  Selling out at certain locations have put them on track to expand to even more doors.  They say being apart of this competition was the best decision they could have made to help grow their business.  However, since being recognized by leaders in the industry, they feel the pressure that comes along with all their new business.

Speaking of pressure, Aimee Kestenberg, at only 24, felt the need to make a name of herself within the world of fashion.  After being named a winner in 2010 and finalist in 2011,  she received her work visa and quickly partnered with the Adoni group to create her line Aimee Kestenberg.  Her dream once a mere thought is now her reality.

In a market where names like Hermes, Celine, Coach and Michael Kors dominate, being the next break out star comes with its challenges.  Emily and her mission are slowly changing that allowing  emerging names to float to the surface with the Handbag Awards now in its seventh year.  Her continued efforts to fight for the underdog are being noticed by big names like Brother, Timberland, Charming Charlie’s, Pantone, and Vitamin Water which are all official sponsors of this year’s awards.

Emily continues to inspire those around her with her passion, dedication and spunky personality.  She saw a need and instead of thinking of herself, she thought about helping others.  The mind of genius if you ask me!

On a personal note, I’ve absolutely enjoyed being apart of this particular project for the past three years now. Looking back and seeing how far some of these designers have come, to know that I was apart of that, reminds me why I got involved in fashion.  You can’t be successful yourself without helping others become successful too.  Emily proves this theory with the Handbag Awards.

annual-independent-handbag-designer-awards-handbag-designer-101-2011-winners(Photo Courtesy of Styleandthestartup.com)

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The Votes have been Tallied

This past Sunday, judging got underway for the 6th Annual Handbag Designer Awards at the Hyatt 48 Lex hotel here in Manhattan.  I was surrounded by some of the next biggest trendsetters in both fashion and entertainment.  Having looked at over one thousand handbags,  I can confidently say we’ve narrowed it down to the best of the best.  For a complete list of judges-Click here.

It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.  Three women especially caught my eye when it came to style, and were at the top of MY best dressed list for the day.

Emma Grady , who I met last year at the judging table nailed one of this seasons hottest trends color-blocking with a simple yet elegant yellow overcoat and green cropped jacket.

Dawn Del Russo, I met at this year’s table had a fierce Erin Fetherston look which I loved.  She edged up her feminine dress with just the right amount of metal.  I especially adored her Christian Louboutin studded heels.   I’m obsessed with anything studded!

Pamela Pekerman, I also met at this years table took classic chic to a whole new level.  I loved how she took a classic white button-down and styled it in such a way that every women would want to buy.  I also noticed her love for Prada via her handbag!

It was such an honor to be apart of such an exciting process, but what was even more exciting was the enormous gift bag that we got to take home.  It’s filled with a variety of amazing products by big names like Kipling, Vitamin Water, POP chips, and Handbags.com.  The most amazing part is I’m giving it ALL away to YOU!  I will pick one lucky person on Friday.  In order for you to be considered you need to write your name in the comment box.  Good luck!

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Let the Judging Begin!

This Sunday, I will be venturing off to the Hyatt 48 Lex here in New York to begin the judging process of the 6th Annual Handbag Designer Awards hosted by Handbag Designer 101.  A very fun and long day ahead me, I’m most excited about previewing the next big names when it comes to THE must-have accessory.

Last year’s big winner was Clara Kasavina, who submitted this gem for the Red Carpet Ready Evening Bag category.  I can remember sitting at the table a bit bored and BAM the whole room gasped with excitement.  We all knew we had found a diamond in the rough (literally).

Their win resulted in a feature in September’s Issue of Instyle Magazine, and you can now find them in just about any major retailer, editorial, or red carpet.

I myself absolutely love pulling them for celebrity clients.  Supermodel Coco Rocha fell in love with this crystal minaudiere and ring which she wore to the 2011 WGSN Global Fashion Awards held here in New York.

Who will be this year’s winner?

Follow me on Twitter @Styleexpert00 for  live tweets and updates this Sunday, April 29th from the Hyatt 48 Lex New York.

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