A look at the world of Handbag Design with Ruth Arilla

Weddings, christenings and communions. The new period of social events to attend dressed to the nines is here to stay, at least for a few months. We might already have the main things, but there are still many details to finalise before the date arrives. In the middle of the weddings, christenings and communions season, in addition to the dress and shoes, there is another key piece in the outfit that no woman (or man!) can do without: the handbag.

Ruth Arilla - Master of Fashion Accessories Design - IED Madrid

The king of accessories is the protagonist of the Postgraduate Course in Handbag Design, directed by Ruth Arilla and part of the Master in Fashion Accessories Design. Ruth, who feels at home inside a workshop, is a specialist in Accessory Design and performs her professional activity with designers such as Duyos and Jesús del Pozo, and for brands such as Jocomomola of Sybilla and Fun&Basics.

Vintage materials, old fabrics and the passion for this universe that her two grandmothers passed on to her have led to her personal project. The Petty Things is a firm that creates unique accessories by hand with enormous care and delicacy and backed up by its own history.

We were able to talk with Ruth so she could tell us about her passion and the course that she directs at IED Madrid.

Why did you opt for Accessory Design? Do you think the handbag is the king of accessories?

It was a casual thing. I specialised in leather when I studied Fashion Design and when I started to work as an intern, I had my first opportunity designing accessories and I fell in love with them. Accessories are important, of course, for me they are like “treats”. I don’t know whether the handbag is the king, but I think that each one has its place.

What will the students who do the Postgraduate Course in Handbag Design that you direct going to find?

Several years ago when I considered how to approach the course, I thought about the things that I lacked when I started working in Accessory Design. A thousand and one subjects appeared. In the course, we address basic subjects: drawing, materials, IT resources, trends, a bit of workshop and patternmaking..., but everything with a purpose: being able to discover how people work in real life within a commercial brand or one’s own brand: target, times, minimum prices… Then there is my favourite subject, the final project that opens up the door to the world. Students will undertake two projects, one of them more personal, in order to discover a basic methodology for developing a collection, and another which is fully commercial, where they will learn in real time how to form part of an Accessory Design team, a very enriching project.

The project is one of the most important parts of the course. Tell us a little about the students’ final projects.

The projects are the unifying thread of the course. They reflect what we assimilate over the course and they give us the chance to have doubts and to have professionals around in order to solve them.
Each year we collaborate with one company in the commercial project. The company may be large, small or more or less personal, but it is essential for it to be a reference for the project briefing.
Each edition is different from the others, not only because of the firm, but also the profiles of the students. We have seen fantastic projects, with proposals that perfectly fit in with the line of the brands, and other people, so sure of their style, that when they leave they have wings to fly.

Who is the Postgraduate Course in Handbag Design aimed at? What professional opportunities will be available to the students?
The Handbag Design market is becoming increasingly consolidated in the world of fashion. Specialised professionals are required in almost every fashion company; it is a genuine professional opportunity. There is also the opportunity to launch yourself personally onto the market as starting with accessories is more affordable. The course is aimed at people who, within the fashion world, want to discover a little bit more about the peculiarities of this field, which it does indeed have. And many!

How was the experience of the previous editions of the course? What would you highlight?

Very enriching. I discover different ways of thinking, extremely interesting cultural mixes are created and, at the end, after the course ends and time passes, receiving an email from a former student reminding you and telling you how useful the course was is my greatest joy.

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