The Sak Collective Guest Designer Spotlight: Lorae Russo

Lorae Russo

Meet Lorae Russo, accessory designer, consultant, and all around industry aficionado. You can see some of Lorae’s recent work in The Sak Collective, an elevated, modern take on our hand-crochet and leather handbags by The Sak.

lorae russo

Tell us about what you do!
I’ve been designing accessories for over 30 years, starting with a line of hats when I was in college, from scraps. The hats took off! Currently, I design jewelry under my own label and consult in design for my friends at The Sak and a few others.

How did you first get into handbag design?
Accidently, in all truth. I met Donna Karan at a trade show and she bought my hats for the DKNY brand. After a few years, I was designing almost every category of accessory from head to toe, including bags. I wouldn’t have predicted that!

You’ve been involved with so many iconic and exciting design projects. Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration to apply to my work by everyday observation. I pay attention to people in the street, noting the repetition. I stay in touch with timely things that mark where we are in history, art, film, social movements, and trends which repeat themselves (like history), and combine with other trends in new ways over and over, again over time.

How do your designs reflect that inspiration?
It’s a conversation based on the character of the brand, their needs, intentions, and what is most relevant about that brand now. I’m more like an actress who brings that character to life in the present time within the context of what is next… building upon the foundation of why that character existed initially, if it still exists for the same reason, and then it becomes clear how to build upon that and ask what other niches can be embraced. The designs honor and aim to reinvigorate the brand.

lorae russo

I’m always trying to shine the bright lights down the road from what is now to what is next.

How do you begin the design process?
I set a clear direction. I pull both timely and timeless inspiration such as art and muses that fit the character and depict the feeling of that direction. I create inspiration boards with color and textures and begin to sketch into the architecture of the bags to create a story around who is carrying the bag, where are they going and what their needs may be.

Who’s the woman you envision when you design your collections?
I generally have a few muses in mind. I often think in the context of ‘what would a mother and a daughter borrow or covet from one another?’ I also imagine people I know, some very fashionable urban dwellers, (and others who don’t care about fashion and live in the country or by the shore) and enjoy coming up with designs that embrace many ages and can have a life in the hands of the owners as well as in the hands of other designers to refabricate or embellish over many seasons.

What’s your go-to everyday bag?
I lug around a lot every day while designing for other people and running around the design district, so I designed a heavy duty utilitarian bag that fits my tools, is very spacious but folds into itself when not loaded down.

What’s always in your bag?
A sketchbook, a pencil, my phone and lip balm.

lorae russo design

Your style is coveted by many! Who are your style icons? Thank you! Yves St Laurent is a true style icon in my eyes because he truly married what people were really wearing with his refined taste level, style, and sophistication to create magical rockstar-meets-everyday-chic that is just timeless.

Shop new arrivals from The Sak Collective, here!

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By Lauren