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Style Insider

Interview with Bianca Elgar

Interview with Bianca Elgar

We believe that accessories are a great way to inject some personality to an everyday handbag, such as our Dahlia. Not only does it elevate and lift the whole outfit, it also is a great conversation starter. So we thought we would approach one of our favourite go-to labels - Bianca Elgar who produce beautiful silk scarves - to see their ideas for dressing up our Dahlia to create another look for your handbag. We also thought you might be interested in hearing all about her inspiration to get her brand up and running.

Dahlia Tan Leather handbag

Bianca Elgar came up with the idea for her business when she relocated to Belgium for six months with her two teenage sons. With limited space she had to pack light and keep her own clothing to a minimum. She decided on her favourite black basics, and a variety of bright scarves to dress them up with. Inspired by the opportunity of creating a variety of looks with just a few items, as well as showing off scarf prints in a new way, she decided to start her own fashion brand once back in the UK.

Bianca modelling her scarf

What has been your journey so far and your background?

I have always been artistic. My background is in silk-screen printing, which led me to producing a range of soft furnishings for the home from my Oxford workshop. I previously studied upholstery and furnishing and also did a textile design course too.

What is different about your brand?

The brand sets out to merge classic elegance and modern art, creating pieces that encourage you to have fun with fashion. Our scarves come in deeply vibrant colours and statement prints. They are expertly crafted with delicate stitching and attention to detail. I’m proud that my collections are 100% British. The items are all heirlooms, designed and made to last for generations.

What was your biggest challenge when setting up your business?

My biggest challenge was that I had no experience in fashion or business. I had to learn on “the job” by making mistakes, lots of them. I suppose the other biggest challenge is to not lose the passion for what you are doing.

How did you overcome the fear of failure and any insecurities you had?

I work with a great team. By doing lots of research, keeping up to date with what is going on in the industry, constantly learning and hard work. Just the notion of knowing that there is an answer for anything, if you look hard enough, helps me with overcoming anything that is in front of me.

What has been your biggest business lesson so far?

Do it because you believe in it! It has to be meaningful and relate to what you are trying to express. The quality, the product and the creativity always come first. Know who you are, be yourself and believe in your own values – they can be universal, if they are true. Then you’ll be confident in what you stand for and in the excellence of your work. The customer understands that, which is the main point at the end of the day. I have unchanging values; dedication to style, creativity, craftsmanship and quality. 

Stay tuned for more styling ideas with scarves coming soon...

 

www.biancaelgar.com

 

Fashion Shoot in Croatia

Fashion Shoot in Croatia

VVA departed for their first overseas fashion shoot! Well that sounds much grander than it actually was! So what was I doing? I have enrolled myself on a course - Mastered Accessories - to help me turn VVA into a successful lifestyle accessories brand. My skills have been in IT Ops rather than fashion branding so I think I need a few tips on how to grow and develop VVA for global domination. The course is 10 months and this trip was the third module. 

Firstly though, here are some pictures that I managed to take on the morning of the second day. I know you will think it was a bit of a "scive" but trust me when I tell you it was harder than it looked! Stay with me on this as I only had two hours to do a whistle stop tour of Dubrovnik before the fashion shoot meet up. So a race round the Old Town:  

pictures of croatia

Next stop - fashion shoot preparation. Of course a key part of preparation (like in most jobs I guess) is to know exactly what you are going to do on the day. So in this case we had to decide how we were going to present VVA in an editorial fashion shoot which required me to learn how creatives think when it comes to transmitting a voice for a brand.

In my team (Team 19) were two Make Up Artists, one Fashion Stylist, two Photographers and one Hair Stylist. As you can imagine, just like my job in IT, the personalities were knocking heads pretty quickly as they wanted to get their views over. Luckily we had a chaperone to help guide us - Tom from Mastered and a mentor - Mackie who is a Brand Consultant @mackimac and Artist Agent @saintlukeartists. Mackie made sure we were able to create a "story" for the fashion shoot.

Building our Story:

fashion shoot preparation

Our story after much debate, sorting of images and brand discussion was about a  girl who had been abandoned on a remote island and her transformation from an etheral lonely soul to a girl in control of her destiny.

So having defined the story it was time to chose the clothing and try out hair and make up:

shoot preparation with clothes, hair and make up

Then the shoot began. Three hours later, after 2 location shoots we have the results below. Now whilst I don't think these pictures will quite capture the imagination of the VVA woman, I do think the pictures as individual shoots are beautiful and do tell the story of the lost girl finding herself and becoming a stronger woman for it. The whole point of the module was to learn to collaborate with a set of fashion professionals and to be working towards the same story and in this case we achieved what we set out to do.

Images for final pictures for the fashion shoot

That's all for now

Best wishes

signature sign off Sarah Haran

The Aster by Diana

The Aster by Diana

The gorgeous Diane behind fashion blog Petite in Paris recently featured our Maroon Aster Handbag. Here is a snippet of the blog but CLICK HERE to read the full blog over on Petite in Paris.

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I’m always searching for the perfect, timeless handbag. For me a timeless bag will complete your outfit and enhance your image.

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That being the case, I love to add perfect handbags to my growing collection. Recently, I was looking for a handbag that will go with almost everything and can easily transition from work to evening.

I first discovered VVA handbags about a year ago and fell absolutely in love with their classic look (See it here). I adore the way they come with a pouch/clutch making it a multi-purpose bag. There as so many ways you can style the bag and the pouch / clutch makes it interchangeable.

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When the new work bag was released, I knew it would be perfect for me. I work at a startup IT firm and am constantly going to meetings with my computer. I need a handbag that is both chic and professional at the same time. This new VVA bag fits those two requirements perfectly. The second thing I look for when purchasing a new bag is quality. Will this bag stand the test of time, becoming that perfect timeless handbag? I say yes. I acquired my first VVA bag over a year ago and it still looks as good as the day I received it, and I know I will be using it for years to come.

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When determining which handbag to select this season, I decided to order the maroon colour workbag. I was extremely impressed with the detailing and the high-quality leather. One of my favourite things is the pouch on the inside. This is important because I take the metro daily and I can easily place my wallet and phone in this pouch, making them easy to find and not worrying about them falling out. You can also wear the clutch as a standalone evening bag. I would be remiss if I did not mention the gorgeous pink suede lining completing this perfect handbag.

Read More >>

 

 

 

Mollie Visits VVA

Mollie Visits VVA

The lovely Mollie Rose Houston, Founder and Editor in Chief of The Wednesday Edit, recently visited the VVA Studio and here is what she thought.....

As a self-confessed handbag hoarder I have all kinds of bags in various styles, shapes, functions and sizes. And I still linger and lust for more as its an addiction that I'm happy to fund!

I am always on the look out for cool and funky brands for my next purchase and that is exactly how I came across VVA Handbags.

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VVA Handbags are a Scottish-born (and local to me) luxury handbag company who specialise in creating functional and stylish handbags to help the woman on the go earn her style stripes.

VVA feature beautifully crafted leather handbags with serious fashion points. With interchangeable front pouches to switch up your look from day to night and ingenious accessories to personalise your bag, there are endless ways to show off your style - its like "Lego for adults"

I was recently lucky enough to visit the founder of VVA, Sarah Haran and talk to her about the vision of the company and of course, have a tour around her fantastic studio. (Which for a handbag addict like me, it was very hard not to pitch a tent and live in it!)

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Her whole process behind the design of every bag starts in her studio. Whilst she has a manufacturer to deal with her website orders, Sarah handmakes every bespoke bag that is made specifically to a client's order. Talk about bespoke!

Sarah uses bespoke iron 'knives' that she cuts her high-quality leather with. Using her press she aligns every sheet of leather carefully to ensure that the best quality pieces are used in every bag.

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When she has completed her cutting process, she then has the opportunity to personalize her bags if the customer requested, with her embosser. Which as the kid who has an awkward name growing up, I LOVE personalisation on anything!

Once all her cutting and editing is finished then the real fun begins, the construction. Sarah has a beautiful studio that she constructs every bespoke bag to the highest quality. And if that wasn't enough, her studio is a wonder emporium of possibilities and opportunities for your bag.

From every style of front pouch to straps, tassels and pom poms you could imagine, the possibilities are endless!

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We started off by diving right in and looking at all her new products and her exclusives, which we were quickly putting together funky styles and creating new ideas for bag concepts.

Then it came to the hardest part, deciding which bag I would design for myself. Which when you have a plethora of colours and styles in front of you and you have an aforementioned handbag addiction, it was very easy for me to go just a little crazy.

I love leopard print. There isn't any getting away from that fact. But I also love my own personal style which I have a balance of classy and edgy. Which is exactly why VVA is my personal perfect brand. And I will love them for years to come.

I am also a lover of the colour navy. As much as I love a good chic black handbag, I wanted to incorporate my favourite colour into my wardrobe through luxury accessories to elevate my style game.

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So it's no surprise what my dream handbag turned out like. Navy, leopard print and damn bloody gorgeous in my opinion.

Oh, and check that pom pom action!

With the possibility to have my chic navy handbag during the day and my funky leopard print clutch by night, I was ready for the endless possibilities and mentally started planning my outfits to style out my bag.

Working with the beautiful Sarah was a dream come true. She has created the most stylish, fashion forward but functional brand of bags that answer so many questions of women all over the globe; "I want to look good but I also want functionality!"

She does it with aplomb and is the ultimate boss at it. Her brand is a credit to her own tenacity, dedication and fashion vision that is ultimately refreshing in the fashion industry. She built a brand on the basis of answering women's dilemmas while being able to "carry their lives in style" and for that a respect her massively.

Sarah is one of the incredible women who built her own brand and nourished it into a growing success. She's inevitably passionate about her brand and is proud of her achievements. And so she should be, she is changing the luxury fashion market with her beautiful style and combining that high fashion, runway style with high functionality is answering the prayers of women tenfold.

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This functionality is her whole branding and its what drew me to the brand in the first place. These bags ain't no ugly 'practical' rucksack. These are high fashion, runway inspired bags that have been designed by a top London designer.

So let's talk about these beauties. The main bag I was kindly gifted by Sarah is the Dahlia. The Dahlia is one of her totes that come in a range of colours, with the strap, chain and front clutch all included in the same shade.

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Then the fun begins. The personalisation starts. You have the option to add extra clutches, pom poms, straps and tassels in any print, colour and combination that you'd like.

Just look below at the three ways I styled the Dahlia!

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VVA-luxury-leather-handmade-handbags-bags-clutch-clutches

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All I added to the Dahlia was two clutch bags and a pom pom and I have so many different looks. And I am not finished there!

The clutches can also be used as individual bags!

See my edit below;

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VVA-luxury-leather-handmade-handbags-bags-clutch-clutches

It is so easy to see how easy it is to change your look with VVA. With prices ranging from £70 to £350 there is a product that will fit you, your style and your budget and give you a serious fashion edge to boot.

VVA is a brand that I have fully fallen head over heels with their concepts, their brand and their creator. I believe that no woman should compromise style and functionality. Regardless if you are a busy mother, a high profile business woman or even a bonified Mary Poppins like myself, I believe that VVA is the brand for you, and you will fall in love with them too.

Please check out the brand's website here, and have a peek at their social media links below, however, be warned - you are about to enter serious fashion envy territory! Credit cards at the ready then...

1 Handbag, 3 Ways

1 Handbag, 3 Ways

The gorgeous Joan from How Does Joan Do It recently featured one of our latest collection - the Poppy Satchel handbag in off white and olive green. We have included a snippet of the blog below but you can check out her full post here.

 

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When I first moved to the U.K. I really wanted to discover new and exciting brands!

One day I was scrolling through Instagram and found VVA. I fell in love with all of the bags immediately because of the colors and variety I saw on the online shop. You might have seen me wear The Dahlia style in Maroon all during Autumn, it was the perfect color.

The really cool and unique thing about the bags are how versatile they are. Basically you are getting three bags in one, it really can't get better than that. The front pouch Ivy actually comes off so you can wear it as a clutch or even put it in another bag as storage. You can also interchange it so that you completely change the look of your handbag to suit your own style, the occasion, outfit or your mood! My favourite for this Spring Summer is the Poppy in off white and olive, it is so perfect for a Spring and Summer. I am so into cross body satchel bags at the moment and I really enjoy that it keeps it shape so well so even if your bag is full or empty it still looks great.

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As I mentioned the pouch is removable so you can wear it as a clutch, VVA actually sells individual pouches in different colors, prints and fabrics. I am loving The IVY in this print and also the IVY CALF IN BABY PINK LEATHER

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The Bolder Tones of Spring

The Bolder Tones of Spring

It’s spring, at last.  I love this time of the year. Who wouldn’t? It’s not only because the days are getting longer and warmer but also because of all its beauty we can find around us. In particular, I’m drawn to the bolder tones of spring and its effortless floral display it offers to please our eyes and all of our senses. Take some inspiration from that, mix in watercolours, layer it with texture and you end up with something truly amazing and stylish, like a piece of art.

Spring Summer Handbags

So no more excuses – it’s time to jazz up your wardrobe and your home with brighter pieces that will lift your mood up. Colours that make you smile, pieces that will fill you with positivity. It doesn’t have to be anything too dramatic or over the top - remember, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference!

All you want to do is to add a touch of freshness and fearless sophistication into your life. One perfect example is updating your Dahlia Tote bag with a silk scarf wrapped around the handle or tied into a bow at the front. Or, how about updating your sofa with slightly over-sized luxurious velvet cushion? For best results, approach accessorising, and Spring colours, with confidence. Now is the time to express who you are. Be bold as the Spring’s bolder tones and you’ll be surprised how good you’ll feel.

Here are few ideas as your starting point:

 

spring summer mix up

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Estila magazine recently featured our zebra print Ivy clutch and red leather tassel to help promote the Cross River Gorilla Project's upcoming event, INTO THE WILD. The Cross River Gorilla Project is a fantastic project which promotes and supports the work of the Cameroon conservation charity, particularly the protection of the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla and also, providing support for communities in the Lebialem area.

Here is a quick snippet of the blog, but please click through to find out more.

VVA Leathers

VVA Leathers

Our beautiful collection of bags wouldn’t be anything without the leather they’re made from. A key component from our tassel keyrings to our larger Dahlia totes. We only use premium British and Italian leathers from manufacturers who are ethically focused, providing us with a bi-product which we then handmake into beautiful bags!

There are a number of different leathers that can be used to make everything from jackets to belts and bags. In order to understand the different types of leathers we know it’s important to consider the different steps the animal skins go through before going on sale. This is known as tanning and each skin goes through up to 120 steps before it’s ready to go on sale, a painstaking process that can take up to six weeks!

Once the leather has been through the tanning process, it’s then split into Top Grain and Split leather. Top grain leather takes the entire grain of the hide, beautiful with all the natural imperfections and marks from the animal. Over time this leather will develop a rich patina as it ages and becomes even more beautiful as you use it. This leather is considered the best and highest-quality leather you can buy. Our handbags are made from a combination of leathers however top grain is always our first choice.

How do you get colourful, printed leathers you may ask? Well, the majority of our Ivys and Lily handbags are made using calf leather, which is then printed with exotic finishes. Pig skin can also be treated in this way and shows a strong grain of bristles for a beautiful finish. Finally, Hair on Cow leather is used for our furry handbags where the hair of the cow is left on the skin and either dyed or printed. This is what makes our stunning Leopard, Zebra and Cheetah Ivys and Willows.

At VVA we pride ourselves on using only the best quality leathers for our clients, meaning your handbag will only become more beautiful with age.

 

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