Every designer has a story, and Parisa Wang is no exception. Growing up in China, Wang was not encouraged to pursue an art or fashion career of her own. Despite this, Wang chose to chase her dreams and recently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign featuring handbags with a story of their own. We love her designs and her “Love Affair” concept behind her handbags. Read on for an exclusive look behind Parisa NYC!
Cliché: Have you always been interested in fashion? If not, what is the point in your life that really attracted you to this industry and lifestyle?
Parisa Wang: I have loved drawing, designing, and fashion since I was a kid. I never knew that I could be a designer, though. Artistic expression was not a warmly accepted ideal during my childhood because the arts were seen as a waste of time and as an impediment to my academic success in China. I didn’t openly pursue art until I attended college in the U.S. However, I always find opportunities to immerse myself in drawing, designing, and creating things growing up. I drafted and created graphic boards and newsletters for schools I attended from fifth grade to high school. While I was getting an Accounting bachelor’s from Miami University, I double majored in Painting to enhance my drawing skills.
Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” My desire to become a fashion designer never faded entering college and pursing a business degree. Instead, it grew even stronger and deeper.
I could have followed my parents’ insistence and a traditional career path. However, at the end of the day, I could not help but feel empty and lost. I asked myself: is this the path that would make me happy? Will I wake up every morning excited to go to work? Will my work have any lasting value in the world? I imagined what I would tell my grandchildren one day when they asked about my life. I could tell them that I chose a safe and responsible career choice for me at the time, but I would much rather tell them that when I was young, I decided to take a risk to follow my dream and have never looked back since.
What do you think are the biggest trends to pick up on for Fall 2016?
I think the biggest trends in the handbag category for Fall 2016 are structured handbags with top-handle detail and mini handbags. The structured look continues to be a popular option if you are looking for more polished and formal handbags. The different variations we have been seeing on the streets and runways are more refined in silhouette, mostly in squared shapes. Adding accented top handle detail like the Stage I – Hooked Lady Bag in the Love Affair collection gives the traditional look a new evolution.
Alice in Wonderland-inspired mini accessories is also very on trend this season. We see many designers scaling down classic handbag shapes and introducing the styles in various color options. In the Love Affair collection, the Stage II – Addicted Cross body bag is shaped like a love potion bottle and can be worn as a wrist wallet or as a cross body bag. The bliss of having free hands is that you can hold his all day long.
Who inspired you most as you started your career in the fashion industry?
I was really inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert and her philosophy of living a creative life.
First and foremost, “You don’t need anyone’s permission to live a creative life.”
Secondly, creativity wants to be made and it wants to be made through you. I humbly accept my creativity’s invitation to create and I work hard to turn the idea into reality.
Last but not least, “Onward ever, backward never.” We are what we repeatedly do. I don’t believe in overnight success; at least I don’t think I would be that lucky person.
What are your future plans, specifically in the fashion industry? Any ideas yet on what your next collection will be?
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, I plan to focus on reaching out to more consumers. Our customers are the bulk of our business and I value their feedback and opinions the most. I don’t believe in making handbags for mere functionality sake. I make them so that women around the world can hold and showcase a tangible object of strength and beauty.
I plan to work with market fairs, trunk shows, and charity events to spread the story of Love Affair and its message. Inspired by strong women everywhere, I was compelled to continue telling their stories via the Love Affair collection. Future collections will be closely related to our foremost theme: love.
How did you come up with the five stages of love in your Love Affair Handbag Collection?
Disappointed in a love affair, I found consolation and empowerment among my group of friends. Overwhelmed by their graciousness and the emotional support I received from these amazing women, I was compelled to spread an equally encouraging and supportive message of hope to others.
The story of a love affair weaves into the design process of the Love Affair line. The idea came so naturally to me because it was a reflection of my own relationship.
What is your favorite handbag you have ever designed?
I love the Stage V – Freed Satchel in the Love Affair collection. The design inspiration comes from Lucio Fontana’s spatial painting. The inventive heart-shaped detail comes from a knife mark on the leather. Similar to the idea of turning a breakup wound into a beautiful piece of art that touches people’s heart, I was fascinated to see a broken knife mark turning into an ingenious heart.
What is your favorite material to work with?
I like all natural materials, such as leather, woven fabric, and silk. Love Affair handbags are all handmade with genuine leather that ages beautifully. Like a great love, it takes time, effort, and a good care to develop. It will be well worth the wait.
When creating the line, did you have your own personal style in mind, or did you create handbags for a certain type of person?
My girls are the four ladies in Sex and the City:
Samantha is ‘Freed.’ She loves him, but she loves herself more. “Oh please, there’s always a competition with an ex; it’s called who will die miserable.”
Charlotte is ‘Hooked.’ She is eager for love and to be loved. “Everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t know what it is yet.”
Carrie’s attitude to love is ‘Boundless.’ “I’m someone who is looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.”
Remember Miranda meeting Steve ‘Halfway’ on Brooklyn bridge? “Relationships are not about playing games. They’re about mature and honest communication.”
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Images courtesy of Parisa NYC