By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
Nordstrom shoppers were invited to "Mix and Mingle with Rebecca Minkoff" on March 26.
Rebecca Minkoff fans don't know how close they came to missing her work because the designer almost gave up on her design dream in 2005.
Minkoff was at Nordstrom Honolulu—one of only four stores she'd visit on this trip (the others are in California and Chicago)—on March 26 to introduce her Spring/Summer 2013 collection of clothing and handbag designs, and I had 10 minutes to get her to tell all.
She got her start designing clothing, but considering she's best known for her handbags, so I asked whether she was surprised to discover her affinity for designing bags and how quickly her career took off because of it.
"It shocked me, because I was about to give up when it caught on and I said, 'Omigod, there is a God,' " she said. "Really, I was trying to do everything by myself all the time, I had run out of money and didn't know what to do next. To me it was a sign to keep going."
The “Morning After Bag,” or the “M.A.B.” ignited Rebecca’s career in 2005 and inspired the “downtown romantic” designs that now define her work.
From left, Nordstrom's Maria Bernardo, Rebecca Minkoff and stylist Crystal Pancipanci.
Although she said she tries to keep her own needs in mind when designing bags, she really thinks about her clients and has created a niche by thinking about life's firsts, from a girl's first date, to first love, her first job and first experience with motherhood.
I see her Craig Camera crossbody bag ($195) in my future after spotting it on the Nordstrom floor, with cool lines and the depth of a hard leather vintage camera case. She explained the crossbody came about from her observation of bloggers and how they're constantly fumbling with cameras in their hands and notetaking. "I thought I'd give them a place to put their camera, that's also stylish."
Rebecca Minkoff's Craig crossbody camera bag.
After four years of designing statement-making handbags and accessories with her trademark leathers, studs and edgy hardware, Rebecca returned to her roots and introduced her first ready-to-wear collection in 2009.
Nordstrom is carrying her Spring 2013 collection, inspired by the photographer Slim Aarons, known for his glamorous and iconic 1960s and '70s photographs of socialites, jet-setters and celebrities as they lounged poolside.
Minkoff’s latest collection that evokes that same carefree, beach-like spirit, and looking at the ombre floral print of Minkoff's silk jumpsuit or Couric top, it's easy to imagine a bit of Hawaii in the ease of wear and color combinations,
It turns out that Rebecca has fond childhood memories of vacationing in Kona since she was 2 years old, when her father brought the family to the islands to stay while he competed in Ironman triathlons.
Hawaii remains a special place to her family. Her brother got married in Kailua in 2005. She had considered marrying here as well, but said, "When your brother does something, you have to do something different." So she held her wedding in Italy in 2009.
Although she said she always loved fashion and received her first Vogue subscription at 8 years old, because she grew up in an athletic family, wearing her brother's hand-me-down clothing, she still considers herself a tomboy and defines her style as "sexy tomboy," which resonates with the attitude and active lifestyles of women today.
Fans wait in line to meet Rebecca Minkoff, near a display of her classic M.A.C. shoulder bags and M.A.B. leather totes.
Minkoff in her own Spring 2013 silk floral print jumpsuit, with Ki-ele jewelry designer Marylea Conrad.
Minkoff eyewear on display.
Savannah Tatreau tries on a pair of the designer's new Carmine sunglasses with blonde tortoise finish, $220.
Near the store's cosmetic department entrance, a display of Minkoff apparel and handbags.