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Handbag du Jour interviews handbag designer Joanna Maxham + a giveaway!

Handbag du Jour interviews handbag designer Joanna Maxham + a giveaway
In the ever-growing field of handbag design, it’s always nice to come across a fresh collection full of classic, wearable pieces that don’t follow trends, but instead, allow you to set your own. I first had the opportunity to preview some of Joanna Maxham‘s Fall 2009 collection while judging a recent “Rock the Look” fashion event held at Shoegasm. (That’s me pictured on the right, with the Cast Away in port wine.) The bags were beautifully crafted, ever-so-slightly structured and made of butter-soft leathers. They weren’t trendy, but still pretty pieces that you could cherish forever. And in addition to their beauty, they were – most importantly, practical. Large bags with lots of room and tons of useful pockets and compartments are just some of the characteristics behind those beautiful bags.

I had the chance to chat with the designer on her current collection, her fashion obsessions, what celebrities she’d love to see with her bags, and a peek inside her own! Check out what she had to say:

Handbag du Jour: So tell us, how did you transition from a career in international marketing to designing handbags?
Joanna Maxham: Growing up, I have always been very creative and interested in Fashion. However I feared it was not a viable career option, so I did the “right thing” and pursued business education & career. After my second daughter was born, I decided to take a break from the corporate life. At the same time my husband got transferred to Europe, so we moved the Family to Zurich. It is while exploring Zurich, later Paris and Moscow my old dreams came back to haunt me. I thought it would be great to combine my passion for design and luxury products with the business experience gained over the years. Thus JOANNA MAXHAM HANDBAGS were born!

HdJ: What are your top five inspirations you drew on when designing your current collection?
JM: 1. Italian earth colors – In line with the “crisis” I am proposing a palette of quiet earth colors that look great with almost any outfit. 2. French women – They can take a simplest outfit and make it look chic with a small detail or accessory. My lines are simple, but I am trying to make the bags special through materials & details I use. 3. Paris architecture – Whenever I am stock on any particular shape I imagine the architecture of Paris. It is great engineering combined with true creativity that produces best results. 4. My customers – I love to hear their feedback (good or bad) and almost always incorporate their suggestions in future designs. 5. My everyday life – I use my bags so I pay attention to all functional details, such as the handle length, position of the pocket, or even the direction the zipper works.

HdJ: Can you describe the woman behind a Joanna Maxham bag?
JM: She’s chic, fashionable and confident in her own sense of style. She picks up on trends, but does not follow them blindly. She appreciates true luxury – the quality or material and workmanship. She does not splurge on seasonal trends, but invests in key pieces that will last for many years.
Joanna Maxham handbags
HdJ: What materials do you use for your bags?
JM: We use only top quality Italian leathers. All materials are sourced directly in Italy. I select them together with our Italian manufacturer. Currently we do not work with exotic skins; instead we offer select styles (such as the Cast Away and Gallery) in snake-embossed calf that looks just as nice and costs half the price!

HdJ: How often do you produce new bags?
JM: We try to add 1-2 models every season. Sometimes it is a brand new style, sometimes an older model refreshed with some trendy detail or new color/material. My goal for the collection is to have around 10 key silhouettes that can be refreshed gradually and add around 2 brand new styles every year.

Joanna Maxham cast away snake pearlHdJ: Which bag is your personal favorite?
JM: At the moment I simply cannot live without my Cast Away in Pearl. I love the contrast of the slouchy, sporty shape with the luxurious material. Plus it is roomy and light – everything a girl needs!

HdJ: What’s your best-selling bag?
JM: Definitely the Cast Away! Of the older models, the Tulip has been an absolute best seller. In fact I am planning to update this style and add colors for Spring/Summer 2010.

HdJ: Which celebrity would you love to see with a Joanna Maxham bag?
JM: This is a tough question – of course there are many! Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Scarlett Johansson are examples of women who embody Joanna Maxham style well. I am thrilled with the endorsement by British star Kierston Wareing. She’s very popular in Europe and she is beautiful and classy!

HdJ: Where can we buy Joanna Maxham handbags?
JM: In the U.S., your best bet is We are currently building up our list of stores and it will be updated soon. In Europe, my bags are available in the UK, France, Switzerland, and Poland.

HdJ: What’s next for the Joanna Maxham brand – any plans to design clothes, shoes, etc?
JM: My first priority is the handbag business. In the future I would not mind venturing out into other areas. Our brand is about certain women & their lifestyle, so I would like to be able to offer them other accessories that they love.

Joanna Maxham arm candy blueberryHdJ: Which bag are you carrying right now and what’s inside it?
JM: Actually, I am carrying the Arm Candy in Blueberry! In it, I have my brand new Netbook (small and sleek), my Filofax, wallet, lots of keys, some drawing paper and pencils (you never know when inspiration strikes!); oh and antibacterial wipes for my kids.

HdJ: What are your other fashion obsessions (besides handbags of course!)
JM: Tunics & tops! In the Fall/Winter, somehow I almost always wear jeans or black pants, so a great top is what makes the outfit.

Stay tuned to Handbag du Jour throughout the week for your chance to win a special item from Joanna Maxham!
Joanna Maxham jazz crossbody cranapple Joanna Maxham bliss bag latte Joanna Maxham new yorker Joanna Maxham gallery clutch blueberry Joanna Maxham castaway port wine Joanna Maxham key chain purse snake pearl Joanna Maxham cast away snake pearl Joanna Maxham arm candy blueberry Joanna Maxham tulip crema

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8 responses to "Handbag du Jour interviews handbag designer Joanna Maxham + a giveaway!"

  1. Staci says:

    Fantastic interview Ehmonie! All of the Joanna Maxham bags shown are beautiful!

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  6. Such gorgeous bags! Nice post!

  7. Rosered says:

    Thanks for the introduction to Joanna Maxham and her beautiful designs. I love the Cast Away in pearl and I would love to see it in blueberry as well as a variety of colours. I would also value an external pocket. Not so fond of the pumpkin coloured lining. I especially love bags with more beautiful and luxurious linings which surprise and delight the eye upon opening the bag. This may add too much to the cost of production however, I delight in these details. Wishing you every success with your business Joanna.

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