This Season, Charm School Is What You Need

So it’s nearly April and we’ve just about made it through the winter. Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief… and get our closets ready for spring! Naturally, one of the essentials is a seasonal handbag. Now I know we all have our own tastes, preferences, and styles — but if there’s one thing on which we can all agree, it’s that our handbag of choice must exude a feeling of spring/summer so strong that we wouldn’t dare carry it past Labor Day. In short, this means it has lots of color (whether it be bright or pastel) — and if not, then definitely a clean, crisp white hue, right?

Well, you’re going to be very pleased with what I have to tell you. Remember a few months ago when I profiled a handful of local jewelry designers — and reminded you of how great it is to wear handmade, personally designed accessories, as opposed to mass-produced items that are sold everywhere (because you’ll look ultra stylish with your statement piece that no one else has or can find)? As it turns out, we have our very own Hudson Valley handbag designer!

Susan Pizzo, founder and designer of the Miss Charm School company, began selling her own line of handbags last year. Not only are Susan’s designs colorful and completely original, they’re practically one-of-a-kind; she makes them from vintage and rare fabrics — and once she runs out of the fabric, that’s it! (“Sometimes there’s only enough fabric to make about five handbags so they become really special and truly a limited-edition,” she says.)

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Susan, a Westchester native (though she now resides just over the border in Connecticut) and design consultant for a major home furnishings company, hunts around in far-off fabric stores for fine and vintage upholstery; indoor/outdoor fabrics; and hardware and charms. She does all of the designing and digging, while friend Linda Gherardi, who is skilled in interior design and custom fabric work, does the actual crafting.

The bags are moderately priced, ranging from $35 to $150, and are the perfect addition of color and flair for this season. You can purchase her designs, including five new spring “Resort” bags (two of which are featured below), on her Web site (Though it hasn’t been officially launched yet, you can E-mail her via the site to request a catalogue from which to order). It’s expected that stores in Connecticut, Westchester County, and the greater Hudson Valley region will soon carry her gorgeous bags — so be sure to stay posted!

Gracie tote, $65           Lulu petite, $75

Blanche, $95                        Leigh $125 shoulder bag                 Zana cosmetics bag $35

Mimi tote, $65                  Gloria petite $75

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