Nancy Gonzalez Sees Red As Neutral
Colombian designer Nancy Gonzalez swung into Neiman Marcus’ San Francisco store to meet fans of her super-luxe bags and showcase her newest tropics-inspired collection. She talked totes, style icons (you’d be surprised), and her goals of branching into shoes and home decor in the near future.
NM: Tell us about the Spring 2011 collection that you’re showing here today.
NG: First off, I really don’t believe in collections. It’s more about a permanent collection that I add more colors and styles to, because I believe in permanent things that you can wear forever. I love real things and natural things, and I was thinking about tropical areas and how color is so infinite. I live in Colombia around the fruit, the birds, the orchids. There are so many colors that I want to use all of them. But for this season, I did a lot of turquoises and pinks. Red is always there. I think of it as a neutral color. In terms of skins I used a lot of crocodile, but in different finishes: matte, shiny, pearlized, and metallic.
NM: You’ve been designing bags for over a decade. What’s the research like when developing new colors?
NG: I try to think in a new color and a new shape all the time. If I go to a restaurant and they serve a beautiful plate and I see a beautiful color, I think this is going to be the new one. It could be the sunset that inspires me, it’s really everything. I develop those ideas with the tanneries and we go back and forth until I can say, ‘This is the one.’
NM: You live in Colombia. Do you feel like your bags are infused with some Latin sense?
NG: I really don’t believe in barriers, especially how communication is today. I’ve been blessed that I was born in Colombia around such beautiful things. But I really enjoy traveling around the world and seeing all the different people wearing my bags. I love the challenge to create things for everybody. I really don’t believe that we need anything. We need emotions and something that makes you feel connected. And that’s my challenge, to create something that the wonderful women I meet around the world feel connected to.
NM: You must have hundreds of bags at home. Do you have a separate room for them? How many do you keep in rotation at once?
NG: [Laughs] Not really! I have closets. I’ve never counted them. But since I travel a lot, I usual only bring totes and clutches because I can wear them so easily. I just pick the color that I am feeling connected with and that’s it. I will travel with a couple of totes and one ladylike bag. I like the weaves and big totes if I’m at the beach and I’ll always bring a clutch, which can sometimes be a big one.
NM: Were you all about bags as a little girl?
NG: It’s very strange, but I never had that interest when I was a little girl. I never, never thought about it. When I was older I wanted to do something that I really loved and I found that through the bags. But it wasn’t that I’d been a fan of my mother’s bags. When I started making the bags, that’s when I started loving them.
NM: Do you think about certain style icons when you design your bags?
NG: Honestly, it’s the women I meet at my PA’s. It is so moving to me that they come to say thank you for the beautiful bags. I am so inspired by the collectors who come with thirty bags to be signed and they want to take pictures with me. When I start designing the collection I think, ‘Okay, what do I have for this lady I met in Dubai? Or the woman I met in San Francisco, New York, London, or Paris?’
NM: What’s up for you next? Are you thinking of branching out into other accessories?
NG: I do really love accessories and I would love to have more accessories. I am a shoe person. I love shoes. So, I would love to do a shoe. I also love home accessories collections.
Nancy Gonzalez will appear at Dallas NorthPark on April 14.
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