Almost Famous: Nelle Handbags

I never met a clutch I didn’t like. Small or oversized, lizard or silk, envelope or clasped, they are all an easy, lady-like way to take any outfit from day to night. Long before the current clutch craze, I had a love affair with any hand-held bag that could tote my lipstick, keys, cell phone, and credit card, while still looking pretty.

One of my favorite clutch designers just happens to be Minneapolis girl Laura Nelli. She’s also a friend, and one of the humblest people I know. I say this because gush and drool over her Nelle Handbags though I may, Laura cannot be convinced that she is the talented and insightful artist that I think she is. Considering my said clutch affinity, I do believe I am qualified. This week, however, I can say to Laura with total confidence (and unabashed elation): I told you so.

You see, Ms. Nelli beat out more than 600 entries from around the globe to be named a top five finalist in the Handmade Handbag category of the Independent Handbag Design Awards (for a handbag designer, being a finalist in this competition is the equivalent of a fashion designer showing at Bryant Park). Laura submitted this chic, pleated black petersham ribbon clutch, which she sewed entirely by hand. On Wednesday, the finalists will compete for the opportunity to host a trunk show at famed New York City department store Henri Bendel. All five winners will have their entry featured in one of Bendel’s store-front window displays. I get goose bumps just thinking about it, because OF COURSE I think Laura will win. Her bags are classically stylish, beautifully constructed, and utterly unique in their use of fabric, ribbon, and appliques. I have no doubt that the judges will agree.

Stay tuned for the results of the competition, later this week! But please don’t wait to pick up a Nelle design from Laura’s online shop. Mark my words, they will soon be collectors’ items.

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