“I’ve collected ‘50s and ‘60s-era acrylic bags since I was in high school.
I have around 100 — I’m a little bit of a hoarder.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I’d spend a lot of time thrifting on Melrose Avenue where I’d find styles of all sorts. I liked to dress very retro when I was younger; now, I just appreciate them as beautiful objects.
They’ve stood the test of time and are real conversation pieces. People will stop me and say, ‘Oh, my grandmother had one of those.’
The bags have a great nostalgia around them.”
“There’s a great store called DECO JEWELS, on Thompson Street [in New York City], that sells vintage bags and jewelry. The proprietor, JANICE BERKSON, wrote a book on Lucite bags.
She keeps a list of styles I want that she’ll help me find.”
“This bag took me years to track down. It’s by Wilardy. I actually went to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to spend a weekend with one of the company’s founders, Will Hardy. He’s one of the only original acrylic bag designers that was still alive when I started my [accessories] company, Edie Parker.”
“I love this PATRICIA OF MIAMI bag’s bracelet mechanism. The crystal work is all done by hand, and takes forever. I hope to do something like it for EDIE PARKER one day.”
“You can tell from the design that this star-shaped style is incredibly rare. The clasp is different, and the Lucite is hand-etched. There’s so much pride in it.”
“Back in the day, a bag like this would be as expensive as a month’s rent. They were really worn by fancier women — showgirls and socialites is how the saying goes.”
“Every bag has a cigarette compartment and a powder mirror. They’re all of a certain era, when apparently women were just smoking and powdering their noses.”
“This is by WILARDY as well. I think I paid around $2,000 for it.
If you tried to recreate it now, you couldn’t. Doing so would be too expensive.”
“It was never my goal to start an accessories company, but after gaining a real awareness of the market from working in fashion public relations, my love for mid-century American style inspired me to create my handbag line, Edie Parker. Our bags are made the exact same way that vintage ones like this were in the ‘50s and ‘60s.”
“This bag used to belong to a friend, who told me I needed to see it. I don’t remember if she gave it to me, or if I stole it, but it’s part of my collection now!”
Photography byBramble Trionfo
As told to Anthony Rotunno
Brett Heyman is the founder and designer of Edie Parker. The current collection is available online and at select retailers.