Sharp points and clean lines. These attributes are what defines a classic, Lee Savage clutch. The line is only two years old, but Savage’s momentum in the sales and press market has moved fast. It’s almost impossible not to see one of her clutches in the hands of an accomplished actress on the red carpet any given day. Her studies, experience with interior design and modern architecture are significant inspirations for all of her collections. Each clutch has a STACK, SPACE, SHIFT reference point that informs the design direction. Savage’s clutches are designed in New York and with the finest materials, preferably metal – to obtain the cleanest lines possible – are made in Italy.
You left the world of home interiors to pursue your love of fashion – what was the learning curve like?
The learning curve has been significant, and I’m still learning new things on a daily basis. You do find cross-over in different “design” fields. However, as I did not have a significant background in fashion, I had to learn many things in the process of building my business. From production, to sales to PR, everything has been a new experience.
Did you study design?
I was a history major in college, but took the summer intensive in fashion design at Parsons between my junior and senior year. I also completed an additional semester there while studying interior design.
Now that your brand is about two years old – what have you learned since you launched?
I have learned so much since launching my brand two years ago. I think the most significant process to learn has been production — and I still find myself learning new things as the product evolves. It’s hard to imagine all of the steps that are taken to bring an idea or sketch and transform it into a functioning object.
How do you begin each season? How would you describe your design process?
When I’m designing a new clutch, I generally sort through images of modern art and architecture to find shapes that inspire me — and then proceed to translate them into a bag. My search for a color palette is also fairly similar. I search through notebooks of old tear sheets, images of my travels and photographs of art in search of interesting palettes.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
My favorite material is metal, specifically brass, as it’s the base for all of the clutches in my line. With metal, I can achieve sharp points and clean lines that support the aesthetic of my brand. These are hard to attain with other materials.
Are you traveling to Italy often to oversee production?
Yes, I travel to Italy about once every 8 to 12 weeks to oversee production and development.
Do you create custom bags for private clients?
I have not created many custom pieces to date as I’ve tried to focus on building the image of the brand. However, it’s something I’d love to explore moving forward.
Tell us about the STACK, SPACE, SHIFT ethos?
The names are a reference to my inspiration for each design aesthetic. STACK alludes to Donald Judd’s Untitled stack series, in which boxes are “stacked” horizontally up a wall to create a larger piece. The SPACE bags were actually inspired by Sol LeWitt’s Incomplete Open Cubes, but these pieces and other art and architecture works that inspire me comment significantly on “space” and how it is used. Regarding the SHIFT, I was inspired by the lines of several modern buildings — and the final outcome of this piece gave the appearance two boxes were “shifting” past each other.
Do you find that architecture still influences your handbags?
Architecture still provides great inspiration for my designs. Whether it’s the overall shape of a building, or the way in which certain parts of it are constructed, I’m always examining forms and how they can be translated.
Who are your favorite interior designers?
My former boss, Markham Roberts. Not only do I admire his work, but I also credit him with building my love of modern art. I also find Kelly Wearstler and Spanish designer, Lorenzo Castillo, to be very interesting.