Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Local Designer's Handbags Gain Attention

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Local Designer's Handbags Gain Attention

Article excerpt

What do Vogue magazine, television personality Giuliana Rancic and Catherine Giudici of ABC's "The Bachelor" have in common?

They've all showed off designs by Pittsburgh-based handbag and jewelry brand Sandra Cadavid.

And they're not the only ones. Pieces by Sandra Reiman, the designer behind the luxury brand, also have popped up on NBC's "Today" show and on the arm of singer Celine Dion, as well as in the pages of Glamour and Good Housekeeping magazines.

The latest good fortune for Ms. Reiman of Edgewood is the opportunity to show her collection of handmade handbags later this month at Henri Bendel in New York City -- revered as the holy grail of trunk shows.

Twice each year designers from across the globe vie for a chance to showcase their collections at the upscale fashion retailer's flagship location in midtown Manhattan. On these biannual designer days, in just a few hours the store easily sees about 1,000 designers, from which only about 20 are selected for a trunk show. If all goes well, brands could be invited back or even have their designs carried in some Henri Bendel stores across the country.

"I'm literally just in complete shock," Ms. Reiman says. "I watched them just turn designers away left and right within seconds, telling them 'your stuff looks great, but it probably won't do well here.' "

Store representatives were impressed not only by the quality and look of Sandra Cadavid handbags but also by the story behind them. More than a dozen male artisans create the collection in Colombia, Ms. Reiman's home country. They are among the best at their craft in the world, Ms. Reiman says, and also work for noted handbag designer Nancy Gonzalez. Sandra Cadavid also employs and trains women who lost their husbands to violence.

"They're really not too many jobs for women" in Colombia, she says. "This is an opportunity for us to give them a skill set they can use."

Ms. Reiman's adoration for fashion -- particularly for designing concepts for handbags, bathing suits and wedding gowns -- started when she was a child in Colombia.

"My grandmother was a seamstress," she says. "I'd tell her exactly how to alter [my clothes] and what to do. …

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