Tucked away at the top of Lamb’s Conduit Street, which is fast becoming my favourite shopping destinations in London, is the Susannah Hunter handbag store. As you walk passed the doorway an irresistible waft of rich, leathery perfume drifts out onto the pavement, which only gets more exciting as you move inside. At the back of the store, piles of colourful leather skins are organised in a practical stack so the sewers can access the exact shades needed for applique work, but it also acts as a beautiful introduction to Susannah’s gorgeous flower-adorned bags.
Susannah Hunter bags are scattered with exquisite appliqued leather flowers in highly covetable colours which are, according to Susannah, botanically correct, “most of the flowers are constructed from real drawings I do from real live flowers, they aren’t make-y up flowers’ she told us when we interviewed her recently, before she dashed off to Morocco to look for more floral inspiration for future collections.
She’s been in business for years but it’s not that easy to buy her bags (oddly there are very few big London stockists, heaven only knows why Liberty don’t sell them) which makes them even more desirable in my eyes. She sells huge amounts in Japan (through the Goldie H.P France stores) where her attention to detail, amazing quality and the flowery designs are much appreciated. “I’ve tried to do other designs, but everyone always wants the flowers” she said and I can see why, they are like mini works of art on a hide canvas, the leather colours dye up so cleanly that the flowers just seem to glow.
Almost everything is made down stairs in the Lamb’s Conduit Street workshop, with just the frame bags and chairs going to local specialists to finish off. Susannah has been in the area for decades and has many loyal fans, including Virginia Bates, who was carrying a Box bag when we saw her at the Advanced Style party recently. I love the bright summer colours, but this newly launched autumn collection neatly aligns with the romantic gothic vibe around, with matt-black suede roses climbing over scarlet leather as well as a lovely monochrome black and cream version.
These are special purchase bags as prices start at around £490 for the Bloomsbury, although there are more reasonably priced zip clutches at £220 and card holders from £70. I adore them all, it’s the floral theme, so beautifully executed that gets to me. Susannah also does leather furniture, including charming floral leather based church chairs what are very popular with men who wander in to buy handbags for their women folk and end up with a set of chairs for themselves…
I’m quite liking a new term I’ve heard in marketing circles recently, that of ‘self-gifting’……apparently us grown up women are good at it.
I was treated to a guided tour around Susannah’s workshop which is full of skilled cutters and sewers making samples for summer 2013, so these are sneak pictures of that collection being constructed. Right at the bottom there’s a lovely video so you can see for yourselves how the bags are made.
I love the daisy design, here above in the Kindle cover, zip clutch and key ring.
Aren’t the chairs gorgeous? Almost too good to sit on.
These bags are destined for the summer 2013 collection, I am coveting the pink one…
Everything is made in the workshop in Lamb’s Conduit Street and Susannah’s make standards are extremely high in order to keep her Japanese clients happy.
For your own tour around Susannah’s world, see the video.