The year 2006, accessories-wise, was all about the It Bag. As big as an Olsen, with enough hardware to overwhelm even the most dedicated Pilates-goer’s biceps, the ubiquitous handbags were just not doing it for stylist Tamara Taichman. So the French Elle contributor did what any well-connected fashion gal does, and had a bag custom made for herself, just in time for Paris Fashion Week, where editors and buyers alike went gaga for the tote.
Colette’s Sarah Lerfel placed an order on the spot, et alors, Tila March was born.
Four years later, Tila March is a full-blown accessories line that marks the launch of its e-commerce site today. The bags are simple without becoming boring—a well-placed pocket here, a little accent patent leather there, but nothing completely superfluous. Shoes were added in Spring 2009, in the same amazing colors as the bags (think coral, navy, violet—anything but the obvious), and in keeping with the logo-less but clearly distinctive look of the bags.
You can learn a lot from a woman who styles cover shoots, manages a rapidly growing business, and travels the globe to open new boutiques (three in Japan and a Parisian flagship scheduled to open this fall). These are just a few of the lessons Tamara taught me over breakfast last week:
Marrying a Louis Vuitton exec has its perks. Nicolas Berdugo, Tamara’s business partner and husband, was a marketing executive at Louis Vuitton when they first met. He offered his resources to help Tamara create the first bag, and when it became clear she had really hit on something, encouraged her to launch the line. In fact, the name Tila March is a ridiculously sweet reference to their relationship: Tila is a combination of their first two names, and March is the month they met.
If you design an accessories line, you gotta do some black. When it comes to their partnership, Tamara’s strictly creative, and Nicolas sticks to the business side. Except when he can’t help himself, as Tamara told me: “I don’t really like black leather, which is completely mad for [someone designing] accessories. At the beginning I said to Nicolas, ‘I don’t want to do black leather.’ He said to me ‘What, are you crazy? We have to!’ So now because of business I start to do black leather. This is the first season.”
Those amazing colors are '70s-inspired. One of the details that sets Tila March apart in the sea of accessories is its colors: burgundy, mossy green, amethyst…shades you never realized you needed a clutch in until you laid eyes on one of Tila’s. When I asked her about the unusual hues, Taichman told me it’s her favorite part of design: “I love colors! First, I love the 70s. For me, the women were very chic, and at the same time, very cool… I’m very inspired by this period.”
Running your own accessories line doesn’t bar you from appreciating others. Tamara came to breakfast carrying a gorgeous ponyhair shoulder bag in a very Tila-shade of auburn. The simple brushed metal clasp and square shape made me think the line was expanding into ponyhair for next season, but when I complimented the bag, the designer revealed it was in fact Chloe. As she puts it, “I buy a lot of amazing shoes, because I’m a fashion editor. I love Louboutin, Nicholas Kirkwood, I’m crazy about this kind of thing, and I think they’re super-good and super-talented. But for Tila March, I think I have to do something else. I try to mix style with something easy to wear, everyday, all day long.”
She might disagree with our Adventures in Copyright series. For her spring line, Tamara made the perfect suede wedge in a rainbow of colors, including mustard yellow. A nearly identical pair—down to the skinny ankle strap—hit the runway a few months later in Celine’s pre-fall show. When I asked the designer about it, she wrote it off as a symptom of the very small fashion community. “It’s normal. In the fashion world, we’re close…we see the same movie at the same time, we see the same exhibition.” In short, similar inspiration=similar designs.