Designer spotlight: Laura Vela - Breakout star from The Accessorie Circuit

Laura Vela, is my definitive breakout handbag designer from The Accessorie Circuit fashion trade show that is currently taking place at the Chelsea Piers. This young and dynamic designer may only be on her fourth handbag collection but style and fashion vets like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Sarah Jessica Parker are already sporting her unique designs.

Her handbags are perfect for the Uptown fashionista and even translates to the Downtown chic trendsetter. Did I mention she's was chosen as the youngest designer to show at the Accessories Exhibit at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week last February? Read below for my captivating interview with the designer herself and I'm sure you'll fall in love with her just as I did.

Candy Washington: I really love your collections, how did you get your start in the fashion industry and what led you to design your own line?

Laura Vela: For me, fashion has always been a way to express my emotions and the way I see life. It is an art form and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

I got my start in the industry purely by accident. I started designing bags for myself and my close friends just as a hobby, but then people started asking me to make bags for them. My whole design career snowballed from there and the Laura Vela line was born!

CW: My readers are dying to know, what’s a typical day in the life of Laura Vela?

LV: Hectic. That’s why yoga and coffee are a must every morning before I start my day. After that I start work by checking emails, but usually along the way I will get inspired and drop everything to start painting. Inspiration can come from everywhere; a dream, a phone call or just the mood I am in that day. I tend to view different situations as colors and textures, which translate into my designs. I always have paint in my studio so I can get my feelings out whenever the spirit moves me. 

Between checking emails, designing and running in between my press office and sales showroom, I don’t have time for much else. Every day there is something new, and I love never knowing what is going to happen! That is the beauty of being in New York City.

CW: You’ve getting a lot of acclaim from celebrities like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, are there any celebrities you look to for inspiration?

LV: I don’t really see celebrities as celebrities. I see them as everyday people, and I find all people inspiring. Everybody has a story and is interesting in their own unique way, from how they carry themselves to the way they dress and express themselves. I could do an entire collection on someone I hadn’t previously met, just by listening to them and understanding where they came from and what made them who they are today.

CW: Where else do you find your inspiration?

LV: A lot of my inspiration comes from nature. After awhile, the city tends to make me anxious and I have to get out. I feel like myself in nature, it calms me down, and that’s when I am able to do the majority of my sketching.

I love architecture, art and experiencing different cultures. I grew up moving from one country to another, which has had a huge impact on who I am today, and shows in my designs.

CW: As a budding role model to many young women, any advice for aspiring fashionistas?

LV: Find opportunities where others see obstacles. Advice from others is always appreciated, but in the end, you have to follow your own instincts. You never know where they may take you. While I always dreamed of being surrounded by fashion, I could have never imagined actually becoming a designer!

If you want something, go after it.

CW: What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out?

LV: SO many things. While it would have been nice to have someone guiding me through every step, I have learned so much from my mistakes and have grown a great deal from that. Overall, I have learned to be more assertive and confident in my decisions. I wish I would have possessed that quality earlier on, but it’s a learning process.

CW: The January Accessorie Circuit show is coming up, what do you do to prepare for the trade shows? What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of the shows?

LV: Everything needs to be perfect, so it is a lot of organizing, from the line sheets and look books to the booth decoration. It is so important that my booth communicates the message of my brand. There are a lot of people involved and I want everything to run smoothly. I love the creative aspect of designing the aesthetics for the booth, but trying to get everyone on the same page is very stressful!

CW: I know that you are an international traveler, what are some of your favorite destinations? Do you incorporate your travels into your work?

LV: My designs reflect the way I see life, and experiencing so many different cultures provides a unique point of view. I moved to Germany when I was 11 and didn’t speak a word of German. Experiencing that kind of culture shock at such a young age definitely expands your view.

My favorite places in the world are Barcelona, New York, Buenos Aires, and Cascals (Portugal). Barcelona is actually where I found the inspiration for my next collection. The architecture moves me. I find the people, the way of life and just the mood I am in when I am there so inspiring.

CW: We are fashion-obsessed! Any tips on how to wear the latest Fall/Winter trends? What are some of your favorite pieces?

LV: My biggest tip is to never follow logic, just go with your own personal style. I love the juxtaposition of colors and textures. Different feelings can come together to form a singular outfit, like mixing feminine pieces with masculine ones. There is nothing better than a good blazer and an amazing dress, topped off of course with an adorable handbag.

CW: What can we look forward to from Laura Vela in your upcoming collections?

LV: Sophistication and elegance combined with a free spirit and fun. You will see a wild mix of textures, prints and geometric shapes.

CW: If you weren’t a designer – what would you be doing?

LV: I would be painting all day in my little terrace and probably still designing for myself. I need fashion and art in my life. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

CW: What is something you want our readers to know that they can only find out here?
I love to dance ballet and play the piano. Playing the piano calms me down. I also like to dance ballet, but you really don’t want to see that.

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