When designing her debut line of handbags, jeweler Lynn Ban had the following three in mind: a gold bar, Zeus and a giant jeweled cross.
Ban is known for her unconventional designs — a black diamond barbed wire ring, a smoking lips lariat or a thorn cross brooch, for example — which is why it comes as little surprise that one of her first handbag offerings is a gold bullion bar minaudière “heavy enough to feel the weight of a kilo that you can just slap down.” The bag, which doubles as a necklace, was most recently seen around Gigi Hadid’s neck in Vogue Italia.
The handbag line, which includes three styles, goes live today at Matchesfashion.com, with launches at Linda’s at Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey Atlanta and New York, Maxfield, Club 21 Singapore and Montaigne Market Paris to follow. Prices range from $1,900 to $4,400. The bullion minaudière is available in limited quantities — 50 were handcrafted in Italy — and each is numbered inside.
Since starting her business seven years ago, Ban has accumulated a celebrity following that includes Beyoncé, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj. She has been working with Rihanna since the singer’s 2013 “Diamond World Tour” and has designed custom pieces for Fenty Puma.
Ban is a lover of pop culture, especially music, as well as high fashion and illustrations. Speaking of her first cassette tape — Michael Jackson — she references “footage from the Seventies and Eighties when [Jackson] was in that sparkly ‘Off the Wall’ sweater ensemble,” noting that Alessandro Michele recently sent a similar looking ensemble down the runway for Gucci. Her Manhattan apartment is sprinkled with illustrations by Antonio Lopez and Tony Viramontes, as well as an original Yves Saint Laurent sketch from when he was at Christian Dior. Her living room features a massive bookcase filled with fashion tomes.
She’s often fortunate enough to work with the aforementioned musical muses, but Ban draws heavily from her own personal style, too. For her, a Balenciaga money dress constitutes a casual Tuesday look. She’s previously worn Saint Laurent and Gucci to go skiing and her vintage archive is so good, she once lent Rihanna a John Galliano for Dior kimono for a Manolo Blahnik campaign.
It’s exactly this no-holds-barred aesthetic that led Ban to launch handbags.
“When I started thinking about designing evening bags, as always, I started to think about what I want to wear,” Ban said. “Rather than the traditional rectangle or square, I want to make shapes that do not exist or are rare and hard to find — jewel-like objects as bags. Looking around at night, I noticed that most women had their phone in their hand and not in their bag. I thought about not having the restriction of fitting a phone in the bag and was free to let my imagination run wild.”
The result was the gold bullion bar minaudière, followed by a “blinged out lightning bolt like Zeus reigning down from the heavens,” as well as the jeweled cross.
Ban is now looking at sunglasses as another category to add to her growing business. “In my own personal style, it’s glasses, jewelry, bags, those are my go-tos,” she said, adding that she’s looking for a licensing partner.
When she’s not skiing in couture, Ban is either playing tennis, surfing, diving or dancing hip-hop or jazz. “I am a crazy shopper of all things — fashion, beauty, workout wear, food and vintage,” she said. “Every city, every country, I will scope out the best vintage stores and those are always the first stop on my must do list.” She often researches new hotels, resorts, experiences and restaurants and considers herself a “closeted luxury concierge.”
True to her personal style, her design philosophy, she said, is “love it or hate it.”
“I would rather someone love it or hate it rather than for them to have no opinion or for it to be mediocre,” she said. “I would want somebody, or myself, to be passionate about designing something or buying something or wearing something. You either love it or hate it, but you have to have a strong emotion about it, not just ‘eh.’ There’s too much ‘eh’ out there.”
More from WWD.com: