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DESIGNER OF THE DAY

Katherine Kwei

Katherine Kwei

Katherine Kwei approaches her design with a passion for understated elegance while remaining faithful to her artistic vision of mixing modernity with tradition through her Chinese "Eternity" knot-inspired weave.
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Innovative design, exceptional quality, and a deep reverence for tradition are the foundation for Katherine Kwei's design philosophy. Katherine Kwei approaches her design with a passion for understated elegance while remaining faithful to her artistic vision of mixing modernity with tradition through her Chinese "Eternity" knot-inspired weave. With so much handiwork one might think Kwei's bags seem precious but they look edgy, tough and elegant - a perfect presentation of the modern woman who is both feminine and strong.

A former PR rep for luxury giant Louis Vuitton, Katherine Kwei was familiar with high-end skins and craftsmanship long before she started her own line which debuted in 2007. Kwei draws inspiration each season from her heritage: she adapted her signature Chinese "Eternity" knot-inspired weave learned from her grandmother. Catching the attention of a growing list of celebs including Cameron Diaz, Blake Lively, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Mendes, Taylor Momsen, Ashley Olsen, Sienna Miller, Fergie (Black Eyed Peas), and Olivia Palermo, her line has also kindled a following of well-heeled women and luxury boutiques.

As a young girl, Kwei remembers spending afternoons with her grandmother folding wonton dumplings, knotting cords for necklaces filled with jade and precious stones, and looking over the intricate embroidery patterns of old quilts and robes. Kwei's grandmother who was a clothier "stylist" for silver screen legends Katherine Hepburn and Anthony Quinn, as well as a master at Chinese knotting, instilled in Kwei a deep reverence for her cultural roots and passion for working with her hands. Kwei's fashion career began in Public Relations with Louis Vuitton in Hong Kong, spanning 14 countries in the Asia Pacific region, where she developed a deep respect and appreciation for exceptional quality and design. Her love of handbags, passion for design, and entrepreneurial spirit inspired her to start her own line.

In 2002 she left Louis Vuitton to pursue a degree in accessories design, graduating with an M.A. in Design and Technology for Accessories from the prestigious London College of Fashion (Cordwainers). While in London, she worked with bespoke floral appliqué handbag designer Susannah Hunter, as well as the trendy Billy Bag Company. After moving to New York, Kwei completed a six-month internship with the famed Zac Posen, working on his handbag and accessories line for the Spring/Summer 2006 collection.

Kwei's own style blends everything from luxury brands to vintage pieces to the latest street wear to create a polished yet chic and playful, figure-flattering silhouette. Her refined sensibility is reflected in her pieces appealing to a woman who is confident and secure in her own sense of style. Kwei's designs aspire to seamlessly blend modernity with tradition by creating her own unique texture using luxury materials, while staying true to her signature Chinese "Eternity" knot-inspired weave as the main focus.

Her goal is to create collections that are of outstanding quality and timeless designs - much like the art of Chinese knotting that she learned from her grandmother, which is integrated throughout her work. Kwei loves to use custom printed watersnake skin for her designs and first always starts with prints and colours for each season. From their silhouettes are created to match her prints and then many stages of drawings and sampling occur before the final bag is produced.

With so much handiwork one might think Kwei's bags seem precious but they look edgy, tough and elegant - a perfect presentation of the modern woman who is both feminine and strong. Katherine Kwei was the also the first winner of the 2007 Independent Handbag Designer Awards Best Handbag in Style and Design.

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