How To

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein

I’m so glad it’s January. I spent much of December dodging tourists and huge shopping bags. The Burberry pattern came charging at me at 10 miles an hour. The famous Tiffany blue was spotted on bags from at least five blocks away. I discovered the true meaning of understatement in the ‘Big Brown Bag’ hitting me in the head on the subway. But fortunately, before I became totally Gap’d and J Crew’d out, I discovered the Union Square Marketplace and various jewelry vendors on the street outside my favorite stores. I also searched the depths of the Internet to discover a wealth of gifts created by artists from my very own backyard. There were countless treasures of unique arts and crafts made by local artists found at the end of my treasure hunt. But unlike most treasures, nothing I found was a fortune. Everything I found was priceless because of its beauty and uniqueness. So I present to you a few favorites.

Each bag has an inner pocket zipper, a magnetic snap closure, and a removable button/pin that matches the vintage print lining.

Abigail Seligsohn is a young, hip handbag and jewelry designer who resides in none other than the artist hotspot of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her vintage-inspired handbags that scream fashion and functionality were what first caught my eye. But, a closer look at her 80s inspired jewelry line of brightly colored acrylic geometrical shapes had me singing Culture Club tunes and questioning my choice to throw out my splatter painted sweatshirt. A graduate of the Pratt Institute, Abigail’s work has been seen in British Elle and Teen Vogue and worn by MTV VJs. Walk into Patricia Fields, Vice, Eva, I Heart, and Landing to purchase this urban line of accessories or visit www.abigrl.com for more info on this retro cool designer.


Jewelry designer Elena Calabrese may be based in San Francisco, but her jewelry has graced the ears, necks, and wrists of some of the most beautiful trendsetters of New York. After prying myself away from her private sale in a SoHo loft a few weeks ago, I’m still debating whether I should give my purchases away as gifts as intended, or keep them all for myself! Working with both sterling silver and gold, and colored beads, wood, coral, and gemstones, Elena’s jewelry captures the crafty artistry of the choicest bohemian and combines it with the style of a sophisticated beauty. Visit www.elenacalabrese.com to view the entire collection and find out where her work is sold.


Andi Billow is just one of many unique designers you’ll come across at the Marketplace NYC. Though she works primarily with sterling silver, her specialty is hand crocheted jewelry pieces. Andi creates looks reminiscent of Tiffany & Co. but for a price that won’t break the bank. Find matching sets of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets at www.billoware.com or make the worthwhile trip to The Marketplace (268 Mulberry Street) at www.themarketnyc.com to find the latest New York City trends and funky fashions.

Kate Rinko and Ciaran Parr started their line of funky yet practical handbags back in 1997. Their motto is “product design for people not egos.” The Loop line caters to a more feminine aesthetic while the Parcel line is more rugged and masculine; with additional bags featuring images of distinctive personalities like Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe, any one of the Loop and Parcel handbags makes a definite statement of style. Like “Sex and the City’s” fifth girl, Loop and Parcel give New York City a voice of its own. Visit www.loopNYC.com to see the entire collection and find out how to get your hands on these fantastic handbags.

Carolyn Forsman is one of the many designers featured in the Grand Central holiday market in Graybar Passage. The holidays may be over now, but you still have access to Ms. Forsman’s great ‘conversation pieces’ of jewelry. Visit
http://www.grandcentralterminal.com or http://www.carolynforsman.com or call 212-972-0111.

It’s tempting to play it safe and head to Madison Avenue when outfitting yourself and your loved ones for the upcoming year, but New York is an untapped resource of up-and-coming designers. Take advantage of their close proximity and of course the Internet, and accessorize your trendy little heart out, before these designers make their way uptown.

Originally published January 2006
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