Carmen Chen Wu - CARMEN CHEN WU

Finalist of the The EVINE Live Best Handbag in Overall Style and Design

United States

2015 Finalist Carmen Chen Wu CARMEN CHEN WU


What was your inspiration for this bag?
We work out of a premium handbag studio and sample room in New York, which allows us to really play with leather and experiment with its properties throughout the design process, as well as collaborate with craftsmen that have worked in the New York handbag industry for decades. Given that they've seen it all, we always try to push for something intriguing and exciting when we create our bags. The Madeleine was born from our curiosity about nubuck leather and the possibilities that it would yield when brought to the cutting tables of our workshop. Though the piece of nubuck that we chose is meant for boots and belts, it has a very gentle and velvety surface, and as a result, we designed the Madeleine to be soft and curvy in a distinctly sexy and feminine way. Allow us to introduce her: "Madeleine is our little signature darling. She may be a satchel or she may be a little tote -- either way, she will cheerfully carry your water bottle and folding umbrella. Madeleine is shy and tender; her naked nubuck skin is soft like butter to the touch. Madeleine's handle is just deep enough to be cradled in your forearm and shallow enough for a handheld tres chic look."

What are the retail price-points of your line?
Our handbags currently range from $295 to $695.

Do you change your silhouettes and materials every season?
We rarely retire silhouettes and materials, but we add new and exciting styles to our line every season and as inspiration takes us. For our first collection, we fell in love with an Italian nubuck typically used for constructing boots and belts. We found that the minimal nap of this particular nubuck is unusual and gently sexy when applied to handbags. For our second collection, we're exploring another Italian leather usually used for boots -- this time, one with a shiny surface -- that we have tried and seen how it accumulates charm with use and looks better with age.

What other handbag designers have inspired you?
Celine and Chloe. Carlos Falchi is an American handbag designer that we admire for his lifelong pursuit and passion for designing handbags.

What makes your line innovative and worth of overall?
Our unique design process and the experience of the people involved, as well as our dedication, love of construction, and celebration of American craftsmanship. We work out of premium handbag studio and sample room in New York, and our bags are designed with constant feedback from the experienced craftsmen at the shop and constant experimentation in both 2D and 3D. This first collection of handbags is created by exploring the properties of nubuck leather. Among other things, we chose to explore "thickness\"" in this collection by treating leather pieces like building blocks

See other finalists from the 2015 handbag awards