Handbag Designer Nancy Gonzalez Dishes on Colombia

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Celebrated Colombian designer Nancy Gonzalez has done it again. The successful businesswoman recently released her Spring 2015 collection and there’s plenty signature bright colors, patterns and textures to go around. We spoke with Gonzalez prior to her upcoming March 26th visit to Palm Beach at Neiman Marcus.

M&V: What was your first foray into the accessories industry?
GONZALEZ: I was looking for something that came from inside, that made me feel complete, something which I could explore and develop my personal skills and at the same time express my creativity. I have always loved accessories. They have the power to completely change an outfit, and I had a large collection of bags, shoes and belts. So for me the obvious path was to start designing accessories. I started with belts, but soon my clients wanted bags to go with the belts. At its height, my business in Colombia had seven boutiques. In 1998 I started working with Bergdorf Goodman and shortly after with Neiman Marcus. At this point I chose to close my retail operations in Colombia and focus on international growth.

M&V: Can you describe your earlier designs and the feeling when you were picked up by department stores?
GONZALEZ: My earlier designs drew on Colombia’s natural resources and showcased its traditional artisanal skills. It’s very much the same aesthetic I use to design today. When Bergdorf Goodman chose my line in 1998, I was overwhelmed with joy as Bergdorf Goodman is one of my favorite stores in the world.

M&V: If you were to start over and being a designer was not an option, what field and career would you go into, and why?
GONZALEZ: If I was not a designer, I would either be a florist or a chef! It would still allow me to use my imagination and creativity. I even took [cooking] classes in Paris to learn from the best.

M&V: What was the inspiration behind the new collection? Where do the crocodile skins come from?
GONZALEZ: Crocodile skin is the main material that I use for all my collections. When I first started my label I was looking for the best material, and in Colombia the finest was crocodile. I control farms and tanneries all over South America, but right now because of high demand I source them from all over the world.

M&V: You are from Colombia; your company’s headquarters is still based there. How does the country, people and more inspire your designs? How many people do you employ there?
GONZALEZ: My native city of Cali serves as my guiding inspiration for every collection. I love everything about it: its exuberance, its people, and of course, its colors. We have blue skies 365 days a year, the largest number of bird species in the world, and an array of greens that is incredible. Even after all these years, nature is still my best collaborator. I employ 700 people, whom 90% of them are women.

M&V: If you could do a collaboration with any other designer who would that be and why? Are there any dream projects?
GONZALEZ: My dream project is to keep on loving every day what I do more and more. And in doing so, being able to provide jobs and help to the people in my country.

M&V: Who are your favorite designers for clothing and accessories?
GONZALEZ: Some of my favorites are Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe, and Chanel Haute Couture, to name a few.

Call Neiman Marcus at 561.805.6126 for more information.


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