Riches to bags: Raven Kauffman went to Italy on vacation from her job as a personal shopper and returned to the United States with a new career. “I couldn’t take much with me, so I wore the same Zara dress every day. I realized I am not my Louboutin heels and fancy job. What I really want to do is design.” Old school: Having met Florentine professionals in the centuries-old handbag industry, Kauffman took another trip abroad soon after, bringing them paper mock-ups of evening purses to be replicated in feathers, metal, hand-painted silks, and semiprecious gems. The Raven Kauffman Couture collections (one is inspired by art patrons such as Peggy Guggenheim and Nancy Cunard; another will glow with embedded fiber-optic lights) draw on her passion for history, textiles, and nature. Lonely at the top: This may be a bad time for introducing accessories that cost $1,450 to $2,335, but Kauffman has ignored requests to make a cheaper line. “The world doesn’t need another plain handbag. When I design, I ask myself, ‘What makes this special?’” » Raven Kauffman Couture bags available at Des Kohan, L.A., 323-857-0200.
Photograph by David Tsay