Edmonton: Bag lady style

Like most fashion-obsessed women, I love mixing high and low fashion to create edgy and unique looks: A Preen dress with a Gap anorak; a Joe Fresh Style shirt with a Diane von Furstenberg skirt.  And if the look is willing, there is nothing I love more than adding accessories.  From vintage jewellery to designer shoes and locally handcrafted bags, I love them all.  A few weeks ago, I accompanied my husband and three young sons to the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market (10310-83 Ave., 780-439-1844, Saturdays) in search of homemade jam and baby red potatoes, but instead discovered The Bag & Bath Ladies a.k.a. Diane Murphy and Helen Brassington and their gorgeous one-of-a-kind bags ($12 to $75). 

Murphy and Brassington design and sew artisanal bags that are a study in unstructured simplicity and versatility.  Almost all of their bags are reversible (a definite crowd pleaser among recession-minded shoppers) and while some of the materials in their pieces are new, the pair make good use of recycled leather and fabric from dresses, blankets, leather coats, tablecloths and curtains. “We keep the original shape of the leather with scratches, holes—even branding marks,” says Murphy.

You can also help create your own custom bag by bringing in fabric or leather pieces you’d like to re-use and the ladies will happily retool into a portable work of art. But buyer beware, bags this cool will undoubtedly steal the spotlight from your clothes, jewellery and shoes! 

The Bag & Bath Ladies and their creations can also be found at the following shows:

The Handmade Mafia (first Saturday of every month, Orange Hall, 10335-84 Ave, NW, Facebook page)

Stop & Shop (May 22, 23, 24, 11410 Kingsway Ave., stopandshopshow.com)

Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival (August 13 to 23)