An Interview with Brett Heyman: The Founder of Edie Parker on Her Infamous Clutches

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Photo: Courtesy of Edie Parker

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Known for its unique and whimsical designs in pearlescent materials and glittering confetti, luxury handbag brand Edie Parker has made it to the top of every must-have accessories lust list. Founded by designer Brett Heyman, the New York-based company is named after Heyman’s daughter, and inspired by vintage American accessories carried by showgirls and socialites during the 1950s and 60s. Savoir Flair met with the talented designer for a special chat about the inception of the brand, why she chooses to work with acrylic, her passion for making her products in the USA, what she thinks about the Dubai fashion scene, and what her all-time favorite bag is.

You named your company after your adorable daughter, Edie Parker. Did you have other names in mind that you scratched out before deciding on Edie Parker? What were they?
I certainly tried to think of other names, but I believe that is one of the hardest parts of starting a business. There were no close second choices. Yes, Edie Parker is my daughter, but the name Edie to me evokes many chic, stylish Edies throughout history. For example, Edie Sedgwick, Edie Beale, and Edie Parker Kerouac.

Your bags are inspired by 1950s and 1960s American accessories. What drew you to this post-war period in American history and how did that translate into your designs?
I am particularly drawn to this period because America was setting fashion trends globally for the first time. It was such an innovative period, and the use of unexpected materials like acrylic was part of this innovation. Our designs pay homage to this period not only in aesthetic but in the way they are made. Like their mid-century predecessors, each bag is handmade by skilled artisans committed to their craft.

What made you gravitate towards acrylic materials and sparkling confetti?
Acrylic is a blank canvas. You can do almost anything with it. I love that sense of possibility. As for sparkling confetti, I am a huge fan of anything sparkly. Artwork, clothing, jewelry, shoes, and of course, handbags.

For a long time, acrylic materials were not considered luxurious. How do you think this trend in the industry came about?
Well… not all acrylic is created equal. There are some acrylic bags in the market that are made using an injection mold, which is basically how a makeup compact is made. We use flat sheets of acrylic and each one is hand-poured. That allows us to create textures like pearlescent and to pour confetti in for spectacular effect. Acrylic also doesn’t show wear the way traditional materials do, so there is less worry about getting your favorite white bag dirty or having the studs come off your other favorite.

All of your pieces are made in the US. How important is it to you to that the brand’s accessories carry the ‘Made in America’ stamp?
It is very important for me for these particular bags. We are paying homage to the bags that came before a period of American innovation. But, I am a consumer of every country! And if we expand into other materials, I am not averse to having ‘Made in Italy’ on a bag one day.

Your company launched in 2010, and just four years later the Edie Parker aesthetic is recognized around the world, with many new brands now incorporating acrylic materials and pearlescent detailing into their collections – do you believe that imitation is the highest form of flattery?
I do.

As an accessories designer, what are the greatest struggles you face when creating new collections?
Keeping the collections feeling fresh. But every time we mix new colors and textures I get excited all over again.

You recently collaborated with Miami-based brand Del Toro for Moda Operandi. How did this fun collaboration come about and what was the most exciting part for you?
We have a great relationship with Moda Operandi. We approached them about the collaboration and they were incredibly enthusiastic and supportive. They put us together and worked with us through the whole process.

How did your time as Director of Public Relations for Gucci, and prior work at Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, and a fashion magazine help you become a successful entrepreneur in today’s fashion industry?
Thank you. Well, it certainly gave me a lot of invaluable connections for which I am so grateful. And it gave me a sense of the accessory market. I was very aware that not a lot of brands focused on evening bags.

Edie Parker is often associated with fun and playful designs. How important is it for you to love what you do?
Very. I subscribe to the notion that, ‘if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’. I’m paraphrasing that quote a bit, but that’s the gist.

Are you familiar with the fashion scene in Dubai? What do you think about it?
I am, and I am a huge fan. It’s over the top in the best way. As mentioned, I am a woman who loves sparkles and confetti on everything!

Would you ever create a bag specifically for Dubai?
Absolutely. Happily.

What is your all-time favorite Edie Parker bag and why?
That is such a tough question! I love them all. For Resort we are showing new tie-dye acrylic bags, and I am obsessed. The tie-dye picks up so many colors and just looks fantastic.

Do you have plans to open a boutique in the Middle East?
Not immediately, but it’s a dream one day!

Click through the gallery below to discover the Edie Parker bag collection.

Photos: Courtesy of Edie Parker

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