HANDBAG WINNERS: Kenneth Cole was the man of the night at the sixth annual Independent Handbag Designer Awards, held Wednesday at the Time & Life Building in New York. Cole accepted the Iconoclast Award at the InStyle Magazine and Handbag Designer 101-hosted event, presented to him by InStyle’s Hal Rubenstein. “Handbags define not just what you carry, but how you carry what you’re carrying,” Cole told WWD. “It [the category] has taken on a life of its own. There are so many unique components, and now, not only does one’s handbag reflect their individual sense of style, but it defines one’s lifestyle.”

Nine winners were named in eight categories that ranged from Best Handbag in Overall Style and Design to Most Socially Responsible Handbag to an audience fan favorite. According to Emily Blumenthal, creator of IHDA and Handbag Designer 101 founder, there were more than 1,000 applicants for this year’s awards from countries such as Lebanon, Hungary, Poland, Ireland and Israel. Carlos Falchi presented the award for Best Handbag in Overall Style and Design to Bita and Rouzita Vahhabaghai.

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

“When I started out there were no opportunities like this. Not only do they [this talent] have a place to show their work, but they can now get to the next level and into stores,” Falchi said.

Other winners included Krystal Sokolis, Sheila Harper, Fiona Kempton, Marisa Collado, Aimee Kestenberg and Jennifer Lang.

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