NEW YORK — Who would have thought a full-fledged special-occasion bag company would grow out of an old denim shirt? Two years ago, Suzanne Werson ripped apart such a shirt and created a satchel. The response was so positive that when her sister was getting married, Werson decided to try her hand at something more dressy. The result was a new career creating special-occasion bags. Bergdorf Goodman and Vera Wang purchased the bags immediately and since then the line has grown to 45 pieces. Werson prefers to work in satins, persian lamb, fake furs and chiffons; wholesale price points range from $125 to $300 for the individually made pieces. But Werson hopes to design more than bags. “Right now, I’m experimenting with making little dresses to match my bags,” she said. But this comes as no surprise — Werson has a design degree from FIT and spent the last 10 years modeling.

NEW YORK — Rosemarie Zanghellini is bursting with ideas. After working in different areas of the fashion industry for years, including designing ascots for Adrianna Papell’s and Christian Dior’s lines at Ashear Bros., Zanghellini decided to venture out on her own. Her first brainstorm: designing a scarf line under her own name. “Scarves are like little paintings,” said Zanghellini, who draws inspiration for her oversized, colorful silk scarves covered with flowers, Easter eggs and nautical themes from her many friends and world travels. So far, they’ve been snatched up by Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. The scarves wholesale for $29.
Recently Zanghellini started brainstorming with corporations and fragrance companies to produce merchandise for publicity and in-house promotion. Schering-Plough just contracted her to design silk ties for all of its salespeople.

NEW YORK — Marv Graff always considered himself a fiber artist who designed jewelry pieces as an extension of his art. But now, with the launch of a new line of flowered hair accessories, he is committed to calling himself a jewelry designer. Born and raised in a small farming community of 610 people in Shelby, Neb., Graff’s first job in New York as a design assistant for Mary McFadden landed him in the upper echelon of fashion circles. “I designed and crafted a handtied macrame tunic that Mary used as part of her bridal gown for one of her shows,” he recalled. “She also had me create a line of handknotted jewelry that sold fairly well. So after a year with her, I decided to launch my own collection of clothing and jewelry.” Fascinated with the idea of texture, Graff experimented with fiber elements and beads until his rep in London, Sandra Bernstone, asked him to design a line of hair accessories for Harrods. The line of flowered barrettes, bobby pins and hair sticks, which combine multicolored beads and enamel in pastels, is also available at Henri Bendel in New York and Holt Renfrew throughout Canada. Prices range from $18 to $30 retail.

NEW YORK — When Cy Curnin, lead singer of The Fixx, decided to sit out his recording contracts, the last thing he imagined himself doing was designing and selling hats. But due to an appreciation for women in hats and a desire to create an homage for his belated friend and songwriter Peter Wood (“Year of the Cat”), Cy now has the makings of a different kind of hit, Cy Wear Hats. Known throughout the early Eighties for their pop-chart singles, including “One Thing Leads to Another,” Cy Curnin and The Fixx spent much of that decade on the road with Wood, who used to wear crazy hats. “One afternoon, I was thinking of Peter and found myself sketching a hat,” Cy recalled. “The following day, I met someone who designed fabrics and, coincidentally, spoke to a friend who knew a buyer at Bloomingdale’s. I made up some samples, gave them to the buyer and they sold out in one day. She immediately called me and reordered 100 more.” Cy now has 20 employees who work on 10 styles of what he describes as a variation of a man’s toque in either cotton for spring-summer or a selection of fake furs for fall-winter. “I’ve always found the idea of a woman wearing a man’s shirt sexy. So I decided to carry that idea into hats, only making it a bit more feminine with the fabrication,” he said. “My Mom calls it a toque. I call it an urban turban.” The hats retail for about $70.
For fall ’95, Cy plans to add more constructed shapes to the line — woodsmen-style hats, beanies and newspaper caps. He and The Fixx will also be winding up a new release that is due out in the beginning of next year. In the meantime, he’s keeping his fellow bandmembers busy with Cy Wear. “I told my drummer to go around London and sell the hats. With the band I have a built-in sales force,” he joked.