Issue 11
Khirma Eliazov
Playing Fashion talks handbags (and a little about shoes) with designer Khirma Eliazov.
Amongst the It-bag scene rises a new handbag and accessories brand inspired by today’s multi-talented multi-faceted women, Khirma Eliazov. The Georgia-born designer's success story is an extraordinary journey - from immigrating to the U.S. to studying law to a student exchange in Florence. Before launching her label, she has made a name of herself in Fashion as merchandiser at Tommy Hilfiger and Fashion Editor at Vogue, ELLE Accessories and Glamour. Over four years, her brand signature of chic classy colourful designs have gained much press attention and captured the liking of style headliners from Blake Lively to Miroslava Duma to Sienna Miller.
FOR A FEW YEARS PRIOR TO LAUNCHING MY BRAND, I had been working as a freelance accessories editor and during that time I was really able to see how a handbag could completely transform an outfit. I had no experience designing a handbag, let alone any idea where to start or how I was going to get there but I was determined. I tracked down a sample maker in New York known for working with established handbag designers I admire. After convincing him I was eager to learn and had a product that was different and interesting, he agreed to teach me. I spent two months at the factory watching him sew together my designs and seeing my sketches come to life one stitch at a time. Starting a new company is never easy but I am lucky enough to have an amazing family, great friends and a fantastic team who support and encourage me every day.

ALWAYS START WITH YOUR FIRST LOVE. I’ve always loved accessories and when I worked as an Accessories editor at the magazines it only made my love for them grow. Bags have always been an obsession of mine so when I started designing I knew that they should be my starting point.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO BELIEVE in yourself and keep moving forward. Being an entrepreneur is very difficult but it is also the most amazing feeling in the world to create something in your mind and see it come to fruition and have other people enjoy it. Next, always grow organically. You have to be patient with your work and growth. You have to stay focused on your goal, getting distracted is very easy to do. You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. You can’t do it without an amazing team . You should also surround yourself with mentors and advisors so you are always learning and growing as a person and a brand. Once you reach your goal, set another one.

GO WITH YOUR INSTINCT. A handbag should always add confidence to your outfit, if you don’t feel comfortable with your handbag it will diminish how you feel about your appearance. I always tell my clients to go with their instincts when picking a handbag, you want to fall in love with the piece so you always feel good wearing it.

THE FIRST BAG I EVER DESIGNED was The Mignonne Pouch and it has remained my favourite. It functions as a cross-body bag, a shoulder bag and can even be worn around the waist. The straps are also all hand woven.

MY IDEA OF THE PERFECT BAG is the one a woman can wear anytime, with any outfit and feel great in every time. What makes the perfect is very unique to each woman. There is no such thing as too many bags.

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS when it comes to designing accessories. And colour – never shy away from colour! Functionality is also very key. When designing a collection I love picking colours and layering the different textures of Python, Crocodile or stingray in new, unique ways. For example, this Fall I loved how the yellow python stands out against the Natural Python and Grey Stingray – it catches your eye without overwhelming the rest of the outfit.

THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT for me as a woman is my family. As a designer, I hope my greatest accomplishment is yet to come – this way I can keep myself motivated. I separate my professional life from my family life.

LARGE BUSINESS REORGANISATION has been the main aim of the brand lately – we have done a lot to enhance our structure, revised our strategy and arranged new production facilities. We have 2 global headquarters in London and Moscow, so we can better cater to the needs of different markets. It’s been a tough job to implement the changes, but I am very happy we did it.

SHOES ARE NOT AT ALL OVERRATED. Shoes, like handbags, should always work together to add to any outfit (and I hope to expand my business into shoes one day?)

ANY COMPLIMENT coming from a client is always wonderful to hear. Their feedback on the colours and styles of the season is helpful and for them to see how we’ve grown over the past four years is the most rewarding and to see how loyal they are to me is truly amazing.

Photography by Lara Jade; Styling by Marissa Adele; Hair by Yukiko Tajima / WM Artist Management; Make-up by Misuzu Miyake using MAC Cosmetics; Retouching - Bespoke Pixel; Model: Anastasija / Wilhelmina. Opening image: LEFT: Top by Alice and Olivia; necklace by Lizzie Fortunato. RIGHT: Dress by BCBG; cuff by Anndra Neen.
All accessories by Khirma Eliazov Fall-Winter 2013/2014.
Words by Carrie Lau