Handbag Designer Rachel Nasvik Thinks You Should Own a Bodysuit

Rachel Nasvik in her garment-district factory.

Brooklyn handbag designer Rachel Nasvik is a child of the disco-loving, free-spirited seventies, a decade she pays tribute to with every bag she designs. The Chicago native and FIT grad launched her eponymous line in 2004, and the simplified designs are equally at home in Woodstock or on Bedford Avenue. And she launched a series of private fashion parties simply to lighten the dark mood of the poor economy. We caught up with Nasvik to talk about neon tube tops, skinny jeans, and more.

You say your look is modern vintage. What do you mean by that?
I like the sturdiness of it and the comfort of that time period. I think I really just like the richness of the seventies. The skinny cuts and the clean lines. I'm obsessed with outerwear and menswear, and I like to pull details from clothing back then and translate it into a detail on a bag that is somewhat unexpected.

Can you describe the woman who wears your bags?
She'd probably look like me. That probably sounds egomaniacal, but I've seen girls wearing my bags around the city, and they dress more or less like me. My bag is my life, and they do that, too. I think she is someone that has a definite sense of who she is. She wears familiar pieces in an unfamiliar way and is stylish without being trendy.

Bags from her recent collection.Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Nasvik

Why did you decide to throw private fashion parties?
Just to lighten up the mood and just have fun because of the way things are right now and people are watching what they spend, it seems like a good thing for the winter. We're planning to do three or four this winter and hook up with other people and throw parties with them. We're going through our mailing list to invite people.

What's the first designer item you ever bought?
I bought a neon DKNY tube top when I was 16 that I loved.

What trends do you like for fall?
Suede bootees.

Are there any trends you wish would go away?
Overdesigned bags — really embellished handbags with tons of hardware and rivets everywhere. It's just too much.

Are there any trends you wish would come back?
I like the bodysuit — I guess it's come back a little bit. It could look really hot with a pair of tights when going out at night.

Who are your favorite designers?
Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, Daryl K, and Marc Jacobs.

What’s something that every woman should have in her closet? A good pair of skinny jeans. I don't think they should go out of style. I just realized they really do look good on everybody, more so than flares which don't look good on that many people.

What's something you can't leave the house without?
My iPod. I always listen to music. I can't be in the city without having my earphones. The Kills, the Raveonettes, the Strokes, Hot Chip, and Passion Pit.

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