Emmy's Expertise: The Story of the "Natasha" Clutch Bag

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I was always keen on making bags. I grew up next to the Mulberry factory shop in Somerset, so luxury leather goods was my reality. I loved shoes, verging on obsessed, but making shoes on a domestic sewing machine is a tall order, whereas creating a bag was very much doable. As a kid, my idea of a dream play date was to design and make our bags from scrap fabrics on my mum's sewing machine. Fast forward 20 years, and I'm designing bags for one of the most luxurious fashion houses in the world, Bottega Veneta, and channelling the same level of determination to perfect every stage, from pattern cutting to branded hardware.

The Idea

When I launched Emmy London in May 2004 I focused on shoes only. I was a one-man band back then so I had to spread myself pretty thin, just offering bespoke bridal shoes to the luxury UK wedding market, so very much a niche within a niche. As the brand evolved, we became much more well-known for our elegant yet comfortable court shoes, which were more than just bridal shoes. Offering them in an array of shades was our route to reaching out to more women across the globe.

THE BIG BREAK

After a chance meeting with Carole Middleton back in 2012 in the run-up to Kate & Will's wedding, I found myself making the shoes for what was to become my biggest career moment ever.

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The mother of the bride

Once we had the shoes sorted, we chatted about a bag to match, eek. I didn't have one in my collection. I didn't even know if my shoe workshop had suitable machines to make bags, but I kept those concerns to myself. I nodded a lot and sketched everything that Carole described she needed and wanted in a bag. The sketch looked a bit like a thick envelope. No unnecessary, overly complicated construction, no detail just for the sake of adding it, and no garish branding. 
 
I made a paper mock-up to show my workshop so we could get the proportions and function right. It is so important to get the ergonomics right with bags. Shoes have a different, equally important set of ergonomics largely driven by physics, whereas bags need to be usable, sit neatly against your body, and add to an outfit but not take over. 

THE PROTOTYPE

We made the first sample in soft grey suede, the same suede Carole Middleton had selected for her shoes, and I sent it as a prototype. That was the bag that she used on the biggest day of her life—and, as it turns out, my life, and certainly for the life of our Natasha Clutch! I did evolve the design slightly after the prototype's big debut.  I tweaked the proportions, added softer rounded edges to the envelope flap, and added piping to create a more robust, more defined silhouette. I also added a detachable chain to make it more versatile for events beyond just weddings.

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Emmy Scarterfield, the Founder and Creative Director of Emmy London, wrote this blog. Over the past twenty years, Emmy, together with her husband Dickie, has established Emmy London as a celebrated British luxury shoe and accessory brand, renowned for the perfect combination of comfort and beauty.