Can a handbag define a woman? Yes, says Puducherry-born, multihyphenate actor Kalki Koechlin, who believes a handbag can be an extension of your personality.
The actor who loves to essay offbeat roles, as she did in Margarita with a Straw and That Girl with Yellow Boots recently stepped into a new role as co-creator of handbags for the leather goods manufacturer, Hidesign.
A handbag, often called a woman’s survival kit, is no longer a frivolous purchase but an investment, a trusted travel companion, and a reflection of her personality. So, whether your handbag is smart, edgy, luxurious, mass-produced or hand crafted, it is an important indicator of your style and taste. It is no wonder then, that Kalki had to spend several hours in research, and study when she agreed to design a capsule collection for the company.Though she has a large and eclectic handbag collection of her own, it was a daunting aspect to create something new for them.
“I knew Hidesign founder, Dilip Kapur very well as he was my neighbour once and we are from the same town,” she says on her collaboration with HiDesign. “I was quite happy to take part in the design of his new collection.”
When it comes to buying the right handbag, Kalki has some interesting fashion tips. “The one thing you need to look for while shopping is to wear a bag and see how it feels. The straps should be strong, but soft enough so that you can use the handbag easily. Look for comfort and walk around with it for a while before buying it,” she says.
According to Kalki, a good handbag must also capture your personality. “In order to bring my personality into my collection, I had to think of words that would define all that I had learnt on my journey to Bollywood. There were so many words that we considered. For instance, we thought of words like ‘humanity’ and ‘earthling’ which portrayed how we are connected to the planet, and how our lives are symbiotic with nature. We also thought of the word “infinite” because perfection cannot be reached in this world. It is always a little ahead of us. Another phrase that I loved was “dancing” because there is a young child in each of us.”
These special words were interpreted artistically so that she could convey the unique facets of her own personality in her collection. “For instance, we used bright colours and created bags with “guitar straps” to show the playful side of my personality, or material that had a bumpety-bump texture to make it special,” she explains.
It is also important to keep an eye on the trends of the season when you choose a handbag. “My collection had to match the trends of the season, so we worked with shades like ‘cardinal’, which is so trendy now. Retro trends in bags are also back, which is why we created bags in red and navy blue that had a very vintage feel to them. We experimented with shapes too and even tried some new ones, like hexagonal bags”.
Another fashion pointer -- own a number of handbags to suit your mood. “I have an extreme personality,” she laughs. “It could be extremely stormy for a few minutes and then, I could be laughing again. So, I have a collection of around 40 bags to match every mood.”
Kalki agrees a woman’s choice of handbag can show a lot about her personality. “My mother was very classy and proper and she had a unique selection of handbags that showed her sense of classic style.”
The actor, who is also a writer, producer and theatre artiste, believes it is important to own a collection of handbags that can be used for several different occasions. “Dilip and I went through my wardrobes and he was surprised at the range of bags I had. There were high end bags and fun bags and so much more. I told him that this is modern life now; we need to multi-task and adjust to so many situations.”
Among the favourites in her collection, are the backpacks. “They are made of natural tan leather and you can carry them anywhere. I also liked the high end silver bags with the gold straps that are not too bling but have a very classy feel to them.”
Kalki is delighted there are many entrepreneurs making bags nowadays.
“We have been looking to the west for too long and copying their designs. With local entrepreneurs on the scene, we can look forward to bags that are made locally and support the local ecosystem. Fashion has to be sustainable and we need to use what is local and use our own resources to make them,” she says.
Another tip to keep in mind while buying an expensive handbag is to make sure it also reflects your personal beliefs. “I believe in ethical and sustainable fashion and it was in sync with the company I was collaborating with,” she adds.
Kalki has enjoyed her journey in handbag design so far and says that there are plans for more collections in the future. “I learnt so much about the business side of things,” she says. “I had to find out who the market is and now I know. It is good to be aware of the business. It is a new world and I have learnt so much. Though there is a place for both acting and designing in my life, I will always consider acting as the love of my life.”