Mary Norton and Lily Collins’ desire to help people has resulted in an accessories collaboration.
Norton, a Charleston, S.C.-based designer, and Collins, a 19-year-old University of Southern California student and daughter of singer Phil Collins, first encountered each other last year at nonprofit Lupus L.A.’s Hollywood Bag Ladies luncheon, where Collins was the winning bidder on a live auction item for a handbag designed by Norton. Norton, who was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder more than a decade ago, is an advocate for lupus research.
The pair immediately hit it off when they met again shortly after the luncheon at Norton’s store on Melrose Place in Los Angeles and began brainstorming how to give the bag a broader meaning.
“She said, ‘I don’t want a vanity project. Is there any way that we could do something that could give back?’” Norton recalled.
Although Norton generally shies away from collaborations, Collins’ enthusiasm for designing and commitment to the Maple Counseling Center, a low-fee mental health agency in Beverly Hills where she is a board member, convinced her to take up the challenge of a joint effort. This month, the $895 Lily bag and $425 Jane ballet flats will enter Norton’s Los Angeles and Charleston stores, and will sell on marynorton.com. The items are signed and numbered and will be available until Jan. 2, with 20 percent of the proceeds from sales going to the counseling center.
The handbag and matching flats are made of burnished lambskin and come in three colors: graphite, gold and earth brown. The ballet flats honor Collins’ late grandmother, Jane Hale, a ballet dancer, and the handbag contains a removable chain handle, three interior pockets and what Collins’ called “architectural” lilies that hint at her name. Collins and Norton intend the bag and shoes to appeal to a variety of ages.
“When I spend money on accessories, I really want to make sure that I love the piece and that I can wear it with lots of things, but it makes a statement,” Collins said. “This bag is usable. It is for the young and old. It walks that fine line of day to night. It is casual, but it can dress up.”
For Collins, the collaboration cemented her drive to incorporate fashion into a budding career as a model, writer and TV correspondent.
“I love designing and styling, so I definitely see myself doing this in the future, especially after this positive experience with Mary,” she said.