Designer Spotlight: Lulu Guinness

The Godmother of novelty handbags
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Lulu Guinness

Lulu Guinness

In recent Designer Spotlight posts, we've covered British clothing and shoes. Now perhaps we should complete that outfit with a signature accessory... handbags

Lulu Guinness is a British accessories designer and in her career spanning nearly three decades, she has created some of the most iconic novelty bags around. From Rapunzel's tower to those infamous oversized red lips, Lulu's bags have taken every form imaginable, pushing boundaries and inviting customers into her weird and wonderful world. 

Coming Up Roses

Lulu's first design was a clever ladylike briefcase, containing convenient pockets for just about everything. After showing it to buyers, however, Guinness was encouraged to alter it to more closely reflect her own style: vintage-inspired and ladylike, with a tongue-in-cheek twist. 

And so, the briefcase morphed into what is now a classic: a bag resembling a basket of red roses. Lulu was inspired by the notion that when she bought a beautiful bunch of flowers, she thought it a shame to leave them at home when she went out, wishing she could accessorize with them instead. The bag was a sell-out success, emboldening Lulu to create more novelty bags. 

She told VOGUE,

At first I looked at things you could make a bag out of: a house, a shop, a castle...I liked the idea of creating a bag that made you do a double take - that's what I love - and the narrative behind a piece is very important to me. I wanted to create surprising pieces, like the evening dress bag that when you peek under the skirt it says 'Caught You!' Just something that makes you smile. I've been influenced latterly by the art world - from Elsa Schiaparelli to Jeff Koons - and by objects themselves.

Rise to the Top

Lulu's iconic designs have surpassed the role of mere fashion accessories, with the bags being described as 'tomorrow's treasures', becoming permanent fixtures in museums all over the world. The iconic Florist Basket is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London as part of the permanent fashion collection.

In 2006 Lulu was awarded an OBE from the Queen and in 2009 she received The Independent Handbag Designer Awards ICONOCLAST Award for Lifetime Achievement in Handbag Design. In 2012, Lulu accepted an Honorary Doctorate by The University of the Arts London.

A Story to Inspire

Lulu's story is yet another example of a designer who rose to success despite traditional training. The only formal design training Lulu ever had was a year's foundation course at art school! Her success is proof that a great idea, plus ambition, drive and passion for your product are all you need to succeed in the world of fashion.

Helena Bonham Carter, Katy Perry, Alexa Chung and Christina Aguilera are among the stars who regularly have Lulu's creations on their arms. These women dare to be different and venture outside the parameters set by the fashion industry. These women have a fierce sense of style and an even fiercer sense of their own femininity, just like the maker of the bags they carry. 

Moral of the story: Who run the world? GIRLS, GIRLS.

What do you think? 

Are you daring enough to be different? What do you think of Lulu's handbags? What other designers should we feature in our spotlight? Let us know in the comments below. 

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