Camille Gabriele is a modern luxury handbag designer from Washington, DC. With over 15 years of design experience, Gabriele’s collection represents her high standard of quality, craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. We caught up with Ms. Gabriele to learn more about the talented woman behind the handbags.
HR: When did you first start designing handbags? Did you always want to become a handbag designer or was it a gradual transition from a different career path?
CG: It’s really ironic. In my Introduction to Apparel Construction class in college, my first sewing project was to develop a handbag collection with my other classmates. My instructor chose this project so we would grasp the concept of sewing simpler shapes together such as squares and rectangles. I continued to practice sewing fabric handbags at my college apartment. It was a gradual transition. Originally, I went to school for apparel design, dabbled in costume design with the theater department at school, and then music videos with my internship. I felt the apparel industry was over saturated and took a shot at designing handbags. Finally, I introduced my first trunk show collection at my parents house with family and friends entitled, “The Absence of Color”. All the handbags were black. The show was a success and the rest is history.
HR: What is the most challenging/rewarding aspects of designing handbags?
CG: Okay, I will give the challenges first, so the good will outweigh the bad. The manufacturing process will always be the most difficult and challenging process which consist of sourcing for a manufacturer, consultation with manufacturer, sample cost, and turn around dates. Once you build a good relationship with a manufacturer, they are your source for all things possible in designing. Now the rewarding side is to take a simple idea, to a drawing, to a 3-D image, to a tangible product that people want to purchase. It can be very emotional. It is a vision manifested and that within itself is very fulfilling.
HR: Where do you find inspiration when creating each piece of the collection?
CG: I find inspiration in everyday conventional things as well as in non-conventional things. In 2006, I developed a concept for the Magnanimous handbag. In college I drove a car which later had mechanical problems. My younger brother was a mechanic at a dealership so I took my car in to be serviced. While he worked on my car, I sat in the waiting room with my sketch book and pencils. In the waiting room, they had catalogues of car rims. I flipped through the catalogues and started to sketch images of handbags inspired by rims. Later I called one of the bags “Mags” which is a type of rim for a car.
HR: Describe the woman you design for.
CG: The woman who buys the Camille Gabriele brand is sophisticated and professional. She travels and exudes strength, and wants to feel current and confident.
HR: Which style is your personal favorite?
CG: The Camille Gabriele design aesthetic will always be geometric shapes which is conveyed in every one of our designs. My all time favorite handbag design to this day still is our Magnanimous handbags. “Mags” is my favorite.
HR: Name five celebrities you would love to see rocking a Camille Gabriele handbag.
CG: Michelle Obama, Kerry Washington, Rihanna, Blake Lively and Katy Perry.
HR: What five accessories should every woman have in her wardrobe?
CG: Cuff, oversize clutch, chain shoulder bag, stackable bracelets, chain necklace/choker.
HR: What advice do you have for an aspiring handbag designer?
CG: My best advice is to never stop practicing your craft, hone your own design aesthetic, and plan to work hard for a fulfilling life.
Visit CamilleGabriele.com to view the entire collection.