By Christina Rosas Anastasiou
In 2012, Dominie Brazzel founded her brand, Dominie. Today, her line has grown to include not only women’s couture handbags, but also men’s and women’s accessories and a ready-to-wear handbag line, D by Dominie Luxury, which was recently featured in O, The Oprah Magazine. Using nothing but the best materials and craftsmanship, Dominie designs all her pieces from start to finish.
“Listen in” for our BELLA exclusive all about Dominie’s inspiration and passion …
How did you get started in costume design?
I studied the history of costumes and interiors in college, and I did costumes for film and TV for 27 years. In the costume industry, everybody starts at the bottom and we all do the same jobs: you learn how to care for garments, how to measure bodies, and how to run a show. You learn it all.
I also worked at a costume house and my job was to do research and pull clothes from all over the world. It was like heaven! I then got to work on NYPD Blue, Family Law, and various soap operas and sitcoms. My first union job was for Titanic.
Do you ever miss it? Did you find that the discipline from working on shows came into play when you launched your line?
It was a natural transition for me. At some point I hurt my shoulder and couldn’t continue working for TV shows. My husband asked me what I wanted to do, and designing was an easy transition. Now I design handbags and accessories for both men and women. I also still get to do a bit of couture work, designing gowns and suits for red carpet events.
I still miss some of the great people I worked with, but it’s really rewarding to be my own boss. I’m an organizational freak! I like things to be dead close to perfect, but I enjoy every minute.
How do you decide how to design? Do you have a type of woman for whom you design?
I definitely think about the kind of woman who would carry my bags. Every bag is for a different demographic. There are certain bags that a specific woman would carry, or maybe a certain group. Some nights I’ll design something for Beyoncé and other times I’ll design something for Betty White. At the same time, I like classic elegance. My handbags have to not only be functional and fashionable, but also have excellent quality and craftsmanship.
The bags are versatile, from business to nightlife. What else influences your designs?
I think about the “after 5” demographic. Maybe after work you go out for a cocktail or on a date and you just want to carry the essentials. That’s what my After 5 Collection bag is: beautiful, fun, and simple. Everything has to feel and look good for me, and be functional.
I always listen to people’s ideas and suggestions about my products. Input is important. When my jelly handbag collection sold out, it confirmed that people wanted more of it so I came out with different styles and a darker leather, too.
Who was your biggest inspiration for launching Dominie?
I would say icons like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and Sophia Loren. I always thought, “Look how beautiful and graceful they are.” Audrey Hepburn was a huge inspiration. My couture collection is named after my favorite women of style.
Which celebrities have carried your line?
I have been fortunate enough these past few years to have bags on almost every red carpet. Maria Menounos, Anjelica Huston, and Elisha Cuthbert have worn my bags to events, and I’ve been featured in O Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Angeleno Magazine, and C Magazine, to name a few.
Jennifer Lopez carried one of my bags out to dinner and it was covered by the paparazzi. I love someone like Jennifer; she is definitely a trendsetter and a fashion icon.
Do you like working with up-and-comers?
I love working with people who are up-and-coming; we’re all up-and-coming at some point. If I have the ability to help someone’s career, that makes it all worthwhile. It’s good to help other people and make them feel like a star.
What’s next for Dominie?
Our black leather jelly handbag collection just released, and I have really fun things in production. I have new cross-body bags coming out that I’m very excited about.
I am also designing a home collection; we’re just getting our foundation solid. I have table accessories waiting in the wings and I’m designing bedding, too. It’s always a gamble, but I figure if I love it and it’s aesthetically pleasing, people will love it, too. I have so many ideas I can’t wait to share with the world.
Sidebar: Dominie’s Top 3 Must-Have’s:
- A Dominie handbag
- A great, simple dress to wear from day to night
- A gorgeous pair of shoes
Find out more by visiting DominieLuxury.com.