THE POWER OF THE PURSE
The perfect evening outfit isn’t just about the clothes you wear – it’s as much about how you accessorize. That’s something Emmaline Kuo Ranzman knows all too well. Born in Taipei and raised between Hawaii, New York and Hong Kong, she set up Emm Kuo, her designer accessories brand, in 2012, and has been turning heads with her stylish, sophisticated and exuberant products ever since. Her collection of evening minaudières – small, decorative handbags – is no exception.
“I wanted to create something that wasn’t your typical little clutch of fabric,” she explains. “Finding a factory that was able to create my designs was difficult, but I finally found a team of artisans who were able to execute my ideas from sketch to final product.”
Emmaline’s vision is achieved with her evening collection of one-off pieces that are inspired by her passion for architectural design. Her sleek and vibrant bags stand out for their unique combination of materials, while also demonstrating her desire to create something that’s much more than just a practical and stylish accessory.
“When designing these pieces, it’s almost like putting a puzzle together,” she says. “It’s a different way of thinking and designing, using natural materials to create these graphic and architecturally designed pieces. I play into the negative space of the design and combine hard materials such as wood and steel alongside precious materials like mother of pearl, exotic skins and crystals. Another part of our core values is that we practise sustainability through water and energy conservation, something that is integrated into our design process. Each bag is made by hand with a focus on the craftsmanship with the incorporation of these green practices.”
One of the other main inspirations for her evening bags – as well as her unique approach to their design – is Emmaline’s love of travel. In fact, each bag in the collection is actually named after a place that she’s been, and is inspired by her time there.
“I always look at my surroundings,” says Emmaline, “and take influence from everything I see around me, from materials that are used for buildings to the local styles and lifestyles. From there, I try to pick an object to see how I can translate that into a handbag for fashion. I take a million pictures a day – of flowers or the corner of a street or a set of pillowcases. It’s only later when I go over them that I start to see a common thread that runs through everything, and that’s where I start sketching the designs from. My subconscious definitely does a lot of the work for me!”
Although the company is just a few years old, the striking and unusual nature of Emmaline’s vision means her bags have already made an incredible impact on the fashion world and have been seen on some of the most famous, glamorous and influential women in the world.
“We have an amazing following,” says Emmaline. “We’ve had Jennifer Lopez and Gigi Hadid and all the top actresses in Hollywood wearing the evening
bags at the Oscars or at Cannes or to the Met Gala. So the women who wear our bags are very sharp and confident and have their own individual style. They’re women who are looking for timeless pieces with luxury quality and also something extremely functional. Bags as unique and special as the women who wear them.”