For the past few years, Amity Cooper has designed intricate handbags great for using, but best for collecting. Her label, Star 50 bags is now on the verge of wide reception with colleges and collectors alike. Adding a few states each season, Star 50 has covered every state in the Union and is growing by the minute. Now with a revamped website and on the brink of great outlets, Star 50 is the trendiest way to show your state spirit.
PD: What was the original inspiration behind creating Star 50?
Shortly after 9-11, I spent a great deal of time thinking about what made this nation great. There was such a fusion of people and emotion during that period that many of my feelings came to me in images, some of which translated into designs.
PD: How did you begin designing handbags?
Oddly, I just started doing it. I had worked in retail over the years and spent my first professional years in non-profit work—mainly in museums, so I was looking for a medium that I could express myself and tell a great story. Handbags, as it’s turned out, has been a perfect fit-their compact in size, a small blank canvas really, and as the line has unfolded, it has enabled me to be
the storyteller/artist/interpreter all rolled into one. Then, I can move on to the next state
PD: What has been the response so far?
Great! I love getting responses from collectors, handbag lovers, like myself, who can’t wait for the next release.
PD: Who is the Star 50 girl?
She’s someone who likes adventure, who enjoys life and makes her own way. She enjoys looking at the details in life because help define the greater parts of the world around her. She’s comfortable anywhere and in anything.
PD: Originally, did you set out to cover all 50 states?
Absolutely. It wouldn’t be Star 50 otherwise. My goal is to create a national line of handbags.
PD: Do you ever have trouble coming up with a themed bag for certain states?
Sure. It’s not uncommon for me to churn on a state for a while before something appears. I do have to say I try my best to offer a little surprise. It’s important to design a bag that stands outside of our common knowledge of a particular state’s history. I like to dig a little deeper into a state’s history and bring up something that might have been forgotten or not well known.
PD: What are your favorite materials to work with?
I’m such a tactile person. I get in a fabric store and I’m done in. I enjoy mixing fabrics and textures together but I have to say my top favorites would be leather and interesting home fabrics. The treatments today are extraordinary.
PD: From where do you draw the most inspiration as far as design?
I enjoy the research of a state’s story. If I stumble upon a silly fun fact, like Alaska’s catch phrase explaining the disproportion of men to women, “Your odds are good but the goods are odd”, and it sticks for 48 hours, that’s a sign for me to start there.
PD: What is the easiest part of designing a bag?
Finding the story; the actual design to express that story is a bit harder for me.
PD: Where do you come up with the names for the bags?
The names generally come after the bag is done and I sit back and look at what its function. Sometimes it’s as simple as a state’s tag name like Montana’s. It’s known as the treasure state for all its mineral mining history. Montana’s design, coming out this late winter, is called the Montana Treasure Tote.
PD:Your demographic ranges from college alumni to collectors. What do you think attracts them to Star 50?
I believe that my collection speaks to individual on a very personal level. I know that I’ve done it right when someone says that
a particular design is “SO Colorado or SO Arizona”. I also know that it rings true for someone when they get a laugh over a particular fact I’ve uncovered. It reminds them of a personal experience of where they’ve been or dreams of something in their future.
PD: You’ve just launched your Star 50 newsletter. How can readers make sure they get your updates?
Visit our site and sign up! www.star50bags.com
PD: What is in store for your holiday collection?
I felt with elections knocking, it was important to bring back some glamour and celebrate the nation’s capital. My Washington D.C. Blossom is the perfect arm ornament for this holiday. It’s clean, vintage-inspired, and stately. I wanted to keep the drama to what women are wearing rather than what’s happening on the nightly updates.
PD: Any ideas on what we might be seeing for spring from Star 50?
I’m excited about spring. I’ve revamped some favorites to offer more choice in colors and I’m releasing two states from Middle America—Kansas, Oklahoma, and expect some southern comfort from Tennessee…
PD: Do you try to hit on key trends of the season, or does the design of the bags materialize according to the history of the
Truthfully, I try to offer choice by selecting at least 5 states from different parts of the country so that its representative of our
diversity both topographically and culturally. With that said, I try to design according to the time of year. Once I choose
my next release of states, the designs follow from my research.
PD: You call your Star 50 clients “Starlets.” Which Starlet of Old Hollywood would love to tote your bags?
Katherine Hepburn comes to mind. She was so independent and adventuresome-bucking the trend of her time, all the time. Doris
Day is someone else that I feel encapsulates my vision of a ‘Starlet’. Her on screen presence-classically put together literally
head to toe. What a vision of loveliness in a very identifiable, non threatening manner.