Chouette® Designer: Judith Nelson
Chouette® was born of my passion for designer handbags and enthusiastic observation of Parisian handbag style and utility. I found myself “collecting” seemingly endless iconic designer handbags, convincing myself each time that I had finally found the “perfect” bag. Sometimes I was seduced by the current “it” bag or designer, sometimes it was the hardware, other times the feel or color of the fabric or leather attracted me, or maybe I just had to have a bag that was comfortable, easy to carry, and was roomy enough to carry all of my "necessities". That often meant that the obscenely expensive “it” bag was worn for style more than substance, and the comfortable, roomy bag was rarely seen when style was important. None of them turned out to be that “perfect” bag I hoped for.
I had the typical female packing gripes—never enough room, and those pesky airline luggage weight limits. These really limited my options when I traveled to business meetings, or vacations where I knew I would need a variety of handbags for business, casual, and dressy occasions. I always had trouble fitting in all the handbags I required.
Spending a lot of time each year in Paris allowed me the unusual opportunity to observe what Parisian women really used for handbags on a day to day basis; not just what was in the couturier windows. I became fascinated by the utility coupled with high style of their handbags. These women needed bags that would look good, work with them, and much more. A perfect combination of all the chic and highly functional bags I saw began to form in my mind. In my excitement, I actually neglected to acquire my yearly “trophy” couture bag while abroad. Instead, I shopped for rich, authentic French tapestry fabrics and supple French leather, as well as decorative but functional hardware.
When I got home, I started putting all the ideas and fabrics together, trying to create this image of a fashionable yet functional bag. After a lot of trial and error, sewing and sampling seemingly endless types of hardware, bag shapes and sizes, and fabric combinations, I hit upon the Chouette® design: a basic tote bag meticulously fashioned from rich, luxurious fabrics and leathers that would not only reverse, but convert to virtually endless original and trendy forms.
Then, the moment of truth. I tried one out on a trip. It was the only bag I packed! As usual, I crammed my handbag full of water, magazines, iPod, headphones, cell phone, and everything else I could think of. It worked! But that was only the beginning...
When I arrive, I am usually in a mad rush to get to my meeting or luncheon or show, and no longer need the full-sized bag. In the hotel room, without even having to unpack, in seconds I removed the magazines, water, and other things I no longer needed, unclipped the handles, folded over the top of the bag to the outside, replaced the handles, and I was ready to go! Plenty of room for everything I needed, but very chic and smaller in size.
The next test was the inevitable scramble to get ready to go out for dinner. Again, this was easily accomplished. I unclipped the handles, folded the top of the bag to the inside this time, clipped on the chain handles I kept in the pouch, and Voila! I was ready for a night out; my evening bag was sleek, streamlined, and looked nothing like the other “bags” I had worn during the day.
The next day, I turned the bag inside out, and performed the same conversions when needed on that side of the bag; all looked totally different from the day before. This was working! I got endless compliments on my unique and très chic French tapestry bag, as well as my handsome trendy soft leather bags with the quality antique brass hardware. Everyone wanted to know the designers of the bags; and no one guessed they were all the same bag!
So, armed with the results of that experiment, and finding my design truly did meet all my varied needs for fashion and function, I created more bags in different, fabric combinations. My friends couldn’t believe it, and when shown the bags, said they felt like kids in a candy store—so many choices!
So, Chouette® was born. It means “fantastic!” in French, and it seemed the perfect name for my new favorite bag. But then what?
I hope that most women feel as I do, wanting to be unique, and not wanting to “see myself coming and going” when others wear the same outfit or carry the same bag. This bag ensures that won’t happen. The bag is so infinitely customizable, that it can always look original and unique.
If enough women have these same needs, and want that “perfect bag” that provides both high fashion and real function, they'll give Chouette® a try. And, even though certain fabric combinations will be sold in some stores, I hope to keep various and different bags, handles, and accessories available on the website to ensure the ultimate in originality for the bag.
I will constantly offer new bags, accessories, and hardware designed to evoke, not copy, the trend of the moment. That way, the Chouette® bag will never go out of style.
CHOUETTE® DESIGNER & FOUNDING PARTNER