Classic car Culture inspires these homegrown handbags
With her bright pink Bettie Page ’do and oft-matching pink attire, Jennifer Perkins has a flair for the dramatic. Not surprising, given the Costa Mesa resident spent more than a decade as a costume designer for Disney. After years of creating for movies and television, she turned her attention to blending her love of design with her retro aesthetic. Pinups and other ’50s pop culture are all fodder for her Revamp Productions line of couture handbags and accessories, which have made big-screen appearances in films like “Sex and the City” and “Legally Blonde.” One of her most popular items, the Hotrod Handbag (starting around $350) inspired by classics like the Chevrolet Bel Air and Cadillac Coupe de Ville, is a portable piece of automotive Americana.
THE INSPIRATION Perkins draws inspiration from her immersion in the vintage lifestyle, including frequent thrift store shopping and car show attendance. She also travels quite a bit and is a regular at national events, ranging from the MAGIC fashion trade show in Las Vegas to the Ink-N-Iron “kustom culture” festival in Long Beach and the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend. “Some of my favorite ideas have started on the backs of cocktail napkins while traveling,” she says.
THE PROCESS Perkins is a purist when it comes to craftsmanship. A good deal of work goes into each handbag. “Some bags take five days, from the cutting to making the leather structure to stitching and adding emblems and details,” she notes. Though she understands the economic realities of the apparel industry, she also laments the effects of outsourcing. “With so many companies manufacturing in China, there are many fabulous craftsmen that are having to close shop,” she says. “It seems like the next generation is not learning the craft like they used to, so the knowledge and old-school craftsmanship is becoming more limited each year.”
SPECIAL DELIVERIES Perkins is big on customization. Often, this includes hotrod-inspired pinstriping to match a purse with other accessories – or with someone’s classic car. “It is really cool to see the finished product with their really cool car,” she says. In one case, this took on special meaning. “I had the honor of making a handbag for a gentlemen’s wife who had terminal cancer,” Perkins recalls. “He restored a car and made a matching purse for her to wear to car shows before she passed. After she passed, both were auctioned off for charity in her honor.”