Barneys is thrilled to announce the arrival of Patti Hansen‘s Hung On U bags, but we’re even more thrilled to help support her charity initiative. To celebrate the launch of the collection, Hansen has called on 20 friends and family members to design custom bags that will be auctioned off between September 22 and October 12 on Charity Buzz. All proceeds will benefit the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Fund.
Below, we chat with Hansen about her bags’ rich backstory and her passion for giving back.
Barneys New York: What was the inspiration behind this collection of bags?
Patti Hansen: It’s a style that worked in the ‘80s when we went dancing, shopping, or wherever. It was an easy day-to-evening bag and was totally hands-free. I wear mine absolutely everywhere because it’s so convenient and classy, especially the mesh or exotic materials. I take it to the beach, the store, the red carpet… The inspiration behind Hung on U was my daughters, Theodora and Alexandra. They wanted to wear the bag out and it brought back all the incredible memories from the Studio 54 era.
BNY: Design-wise, what makes these bags so unique?
PH: Regarding the design of the bags, my best friend Billy Tsutsos, who passed away 20 years ago, created a style of bag that all the supermodels wore back then, and I still have mine today! Billy and I used to go dancing together, he would dress me up, and I always wore the highest heels I could. My partners and I were so inspired by his bags that we created our own version and continue to keep re-developing it. I think he would be thrilled with the new life we’ve given these bags. Not only are we constantly modernizing and revamping them, but we are also creating cell-phone holders, iPad cases, etc.
The most important element of the bag for me is the convenience. The cross-body style makes it totally hands-free, and you can pack it flat. You can put so much into this little bag and it still looks neat and tidy. You can wear it in the front, back, or on the side.
BNY: The proceeds from this auction will benefit the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Fund. What made you select this particular charity?
PH: We chose Epidermolysis Bullosa because Molly Madden, a part owner, had a close friend affected by this disease and started the EBMRF (www.ebkids.org). Once we went forward and publicized this charity, I had several people from my past come forward and tell me that their own child suffered from this. My make-up artist Sandy Linter gave me a photo album of a friend’s child that recently passed away from EB. The grandmother of this child was so grateful that we were trying to make a difference with this business.
My life has been so blessed and charmed. Even with my cancer, God has blessed me with my health again. When going through it, I realized I how much I really wanted to help children. It’s devastating to see them struggling with sickness and it’s really good that we can help.
BNY: You have asked many high-profile artists, musicians and celebrities to customize bags. Are there a few in particular that you cannot wait to see?
PH: I am excited to see everybody’s individual personality come forward. I think it is so wonderful that everybody is giving a personal touch to their bags. Who could choose?
BNY: Did your daughters play a role in the creation of this collection? Is there a history of handbag borrowing in your household?
PH: At home, my daughters ‘borrow’ my bags… They honestly really love them. They encourage me and are so proud of me for starting this endeavor. I have never done anything like this before and they have been so supportive. Theodora and Alexandra have done all the modeling for the brand and it will be fun to watch them get more involved with their own creativity, because we are usually on the same page when it comes to style.
- Jennifer Alfano
Images courtesy of Hung On U
Epidermolysis Bullosa is a rare and life threatening genetic disorder which affects 100,000 people in the US.The EBMRF is an all volunteer Foundation dedicated to helping medical scientists learn more about EB, its causes, the development of successful treatments, and ultimately, a cure.