Distinctive hardware aside, designer Katie Kiechel’s signature bag, The Curator’s Clutch, looks like an ordinary leather clutch at first glance. It’s not. The flap is inconspicuously split in half — which becomes obvious only after sliding the infinity-shaped hardware vertically between two metal bars to get inside the bag. This detailing, although subtle, is enough to give her bags a unique quality, Kiechel said, hoping it will set her offerings apart in the contemporary handbag category.
This story first appeared in the February 6, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I had been given a gift years ago that someone bought in a flea market in Italy that had a similar functionality, but on a really small scale. The hardware construction was so genius, the way that it was made,” Kiechel said. “I worked for a while to figure out a way to work it into closures and flaps. I had never seen a closure like that on a handbag, so it was a challenge.”
The 10-style K. Kiechel collection also includes satchels, briefcase silhouettes, shoulder bags, totes and structured pyramid-shaped wristlets that retail from $390 to $690. For the most part, the color palette is neutral, comprised of black, taupe, peach and ivory, but Kiechel mixes it up with pops of seafoam green calf hair, saturated acid-yellow suede and perforated leather.
The designer honed her craft at Calvin Klein, Kate Spade and, most recently, Reed Krakoff, but left last year to start working on her namesake line, which she said was inspired by traditional utilitarian accessories.
All the bags are adorned with either matte oxidized copper or bronze hardware that Kiechel created with jewelry designer friend Pablo Valencia. Kiechel said the hardware adds “a softened artisanal touch but with a feminine twist.”
“We wanted to have some sort of jewelry piece to hang from the bag — something that didn’t look mass market and common. That’s where we came up with a hand-carved surface. That was the whole idea.”
The spring line will be carried at Fred Segal in Los Angeles, Showroom in San Francisco and Savage in Toronto.