From Houston to Italy: Patricia Nash's Design Journey
Handbag designer Patricia Nash has earned the status of honorary Houstonian, having spent 25 years of her life here. After two decades of designing handbags for other brands, in 2010 she founded Patricia Nash Designs and now sells her line in major department stores and boutiques across the country, including Dillard's, Macy's and Nordstrom. After her appearance at Dillard's in The Woodlands last week, Houstonia caught up with Nash via email to talk about what inspires her and her growing accessories empire.
Houstonia: After being a handbag designer for 20 years, how did you decide to start your own line?
Patricia Nash: I've always said when I came up with something really unique and special I would. I've collected vintage bags for years, but it was like the light came on when I was in my mom’s closet and found an old bag she's had for 50 years—an Italian leather hand tooled bag, that was falling apart, but the way it had aged was so beautiful.
I said “That’s it.” If I could reproduce this old world craftsmanship feeling I think it would make a girl who is 35 reminisce, “oh I remember my grandmother,” or a woman my age could remember it from her mother—it looks cool and retro and vintage. With a young woman it’s really boho and kind of casual chic and with an older woman it brings back memories of her past.
Houstonia: What inspired your fall collection?
Patricia Nash: This season's trends are just like the brand, think vintage, think retro, think 1960s and 1970s. It's whipstitch and fringe, beautiful Italian suede, amazing Italian leathers, hand tooled and hand cut, things that really bring us back to that period of time. One of the prints this season is Old World Travel where I've actually found patches from old luggage that I've bought in different shops from all over Italy and put them together in a montage print over Italian leather that I think is just amazing.
Houstonia: Do you have a favorite piece from this collection?
Patricia Nash: One of the bags I'm most excited about is the Beaumont Flap. I literally hand drew that tooling for weeks on end at my desk. It was really a labor of love and it comes across as just a beautiful, vintage European-tooled handbag. I'm also really excited about the scarves we're introducing this fall. They're such a great size, you can do all kinds of great things with them, and it's another way to bring these prints alive.
Houstonia: Where do you go for inspiration?
Patricia Nash: My travels across Europe have provided many inspirations, including vintage shopping in Bologna, London, and Paris. Every single bag is designed by me and usually starts with some inspiration. An old horse feedbag or an antique hatbox or something I find in Italy or France. Or it could be a really old vintage bag that I basically deconstruct, and then make it my own with my signature hardware, details, and a slightly revised shape. All of my bags have a history to them which makes them truly special.
Houstonia: What’s next for you professionally?
Patricia Nash: This year has been momentous for me with the launch of two new products lines, Gifts & Stationery and Nash for Men. We have now expanded our offerings to include gorgeous Italian leather journals and agendas, unique gifts, and stunning scarves and umbrellas in our exclusive prints.
Also this fall after years of exploration and development, I've launched a stylish men's line of bags with the same passion for old world craftsmanship, beautifully hand cut Italian leather with vintage details, and plenty of modern conveniences all offered at an affordable price.
Houstonia: Can you give us a preview of your next collection?
Patricia Nash: Just a few hints: new artisan techniques such as cut-out leather flowers, chain link leather bags from the 60s and yes, feathers!
Houstonia: What is your go-to handbag?
Patricia Nash: I travel so often that my go-to bag is always a travel tote that can hold as much or as little as I need while flying cross-country or around the world.
Houstonia: Tell us about #strongertogether, your contribution in the fight against breast cancer?
Patricia Nash: Every October I look for a special way to spread breast cancer awareness. This year, I am celebrating the heroes who are taking action, big or small, to defeat breast cancer because I believe that we are #strongertogether in this fight. We are selecting one Hero each week to honor by making a $1000 donation in their name to the breast cancer focused organization of their choosing.
This interview has been edited and condensed.