Byline: Carmen Borgonovo

NEW YORK — After spending several minutes with designer Capucine Semon, it’s clear that she’s an island girl at heart. Her joie de vivre is contagious. So it comes as no surprise that, while on a four-month hiatus in Bali, she came up with the idea of doing her first collection of handbags and shoes, called Capucine & Capucin. On New Year’s Day, Semon went in search for the perfect sandals to match a red vintage Chinese dress her friend had given her. She found a five-dollar pair of flat, red beaded thongs to wear that evening and liked them so much that she decided to try her hand at designing. “I wanted to create a line that was easy to wear, colorful, fun and elegant,” she says. “Each piece is like a precious jewel.”
The designer, who was born in L.A. and raised in Paris and the Ivory Coast, considers her exotic childhood a source of inspiration. “Living in Africa for five years was a wonderful experience,” she says. “It was there that I became enamored of nature and color, which are the basis of the collection.”
Each shoe and bag, in fact, is named after a tropical flower — Dahlia, Lilac and Orchid, for example. Key pieces range from flat beaded sandals in a variety of flower prints to chic, coordinating snakeskin sandals and bags. “My objective was to make feminine, refined and timeless designs,” she says. Semon also plans to launch a line of sandals for men. The collection will be in stores at the end of May, at Blue Bag, The Monastery and the Art Gallery in New York. Wholesale prices for sandals are $50 a pair, and handbags range from $30 for a snakeskin number to $60 for a fish-bone bag.