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Kara Ross is getting personal.

This story first appeared in the March 19, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Known for her bold fine and costume jewelry and exotic handbags bedecked with jewels, the designer is entering the bespoke business — with a twist. In May, her luxe DIY sales kits will hit high-end retailers including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Carolina Herrera, among others.

The custom process begins with a client selecting from Ross’ 11 signature styles, such as the classic Prunella, an envelope-style clutch, or the Urbana, a flap-front shoulder bag with a skin-covered chain strap. Next comes choosing from the kit, which contains swatches of Ross’ favorite exotics (such as red glazed alligator, diamond dust python and gold-washed lizard); clasps (square or rectangular) in various hardware finishes (gold, silver, gunmetal) and jewels (faceted black onyx, malachite, carnelian, labadorite, among others) to be inlaid in the clasps. Monograms are also available, as well as different lining materials and thread colors. Prices, depending on selections, range from $1,000 for a python stretch clutch to $20,000 for an alligator Benedict, a structured ladylike bag that can hold an iPad. Delivery time will range from two to 16 weeks.

Ross says for this line, she will use finer and more exotic skins that aren’t typically available in her regular collection due to high production costs. “It’s always appealing when you can have your voice heard,”

Ross added. “It also establishes a certain bond between the designer and the customer.”

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