Lola Prusac, a Polish-born French designer and founder of the Lola Prusac brand, began her career at Hermès in 1925. When the venerable fashion and accessories house launched its first collection for women in 1929, it turned to Lola, whose bold eye for colour appealed to the new modern woman. In the 1930s, Lola used Piet Mondrian’s paintings as inspiration to create handbags with geometric inlays (30 years before Yves Saint Laurent made those iconic Mondrian-inspired dresses) before founding her own fashion house in 1936. Lola dressed a range of celebrity clients – including the Duchess of Windsor, Ingrid Bergman and Brigitte Bardot – and ran her boutique in Paris until her death in 1985 at the age of 90.
Now, more than 30 years later, Lola Prusac is being relaunched, with new collections of handbags, scarves, jewellery and perfume. New York-based fashion designer Jennifer Kristina Colborn, President of Lola Prusac, is breathing new life into the creations that became enduring classics. “We’re bringing back her original designs and keeping her classic, timeless look,” says Jennifer. “We’re also reinventing it and introducing other materials, such as American alligator, ostrich and python.”
Lola was influenced by the folk-art styles of her native Poland and liked to work with an array of materials. Today, the company is doing the same thing. “What made her unique was her eye for colour,” says Jennifer. “Lola loved bright, bold colours, and different textures. She was very inventive overall, always trying new things and making them work.”
There are six pieces in the handbag collection, from evening and everyday clutches to more structurally complex bags with frames and secret compartments. “She loved green, so we’re doing more of an aquamarine,” says Jennifer. The collection also features fuchsia and sky blue, as well as neutrals including black, grey and white.
The hand-stitched and hand-printed silk scarves are made in Paris using Lola’s original folk-art-inspired patterns, as well as new contemporary designs. The perfume is an updating of Lola’s original formulations from the 1960s, created in Grasse in southern France, the international capital of perfume. It’s an elegant unisex blend with sandalwood and citrus notes. The jewellery collection includes custom-order pieces featuring her new logo motif in 14-carat gold hardware.
This bespoke element is true to the essence of Lola Prusac, with its focus on luxury and quality. Each piece is handmade from the finest materials by skilled artisans in Italy, France and New York. “We hand-select everything,” says Eduardo Ramirez, Vice-President of Lola Prusac. “We’re involved in every aspect.”
The company remains true to the spirit of the founder, with its focus on handcrafted excellence and quality rather than quantity. “She did everything by hand, so we’ve done the same thing,” says Jennifer. “They are complicated, but beautiful. My own designs are very much inspired by Lola’s playfulness and inventiveness.” These contemporary design elements include a new lock mechanism and hardware for the handbags, plated in 14-carat gold.
“She was always thinking outside the box, so we have to keep doing the same,” says Jennifer. “What can we make that doesn’t already exist?”