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Three Questions for 'Jewel' Handbag Designers Bita & Rouzita of 'ita collection'

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Iran-born creatives Bita and Rouzita Vahhabaghai's new line of shimmery 'Jewel' handbags depict a unique fusion of metals, leather and patterns often used in architecture and graphic designs. Many of the ita collection handbags, which have in the last year taken the fashion scene by storm, allude to the designers' Persian heritage. The 'Farah' clutch, pictured below, named after their mother Farah, also happens to be the name of Iran's last queen, Farah Pahlavi.

What influence has your Iranian-American heritage had on the designs for your new collection of handbags?

Our ita logo was designed by Bita to represent a modern interpretation of Persian calligraphy. The turquoise blue color we selected for the Farah clutch is inspired by the beautiful tile work found in Persian architecture, in particular the beautiful domes that look like glittering turquoise gems when they reflect the sunlight. We gave many of our bags Persian names: Farah, meaning happiness, named after our Mother, Farah. Soraya, meaning Princess and Brightest Star for it's delicacy. Talla meaning gold for its color. Bibi meaning Lady (the Queen on playing cards), since the base of the bag resembles a crown.

Rouzita, you're an architect, and Bita, you are a graphic designer. How do your handbags reflect your personal style and professional backgrounds?

Our collection is inspired by both our architecture and graphic design backgrounds through form, composition and color. For the jewel series, we wanted to create a new fabric by blending metal with leather that can inform both the structure and surface aesthetic of the bag to reflect similar structural/aesthetic qualities that we find in architectural buildings. We refer to this fabric as a "New Exotic" since it's our new take on how to treat the skin of the bag -- skin as structure. This fabric is currently patent pending. Graphically, we wanted this to become a trademark pattern both visually and texturally, having a compositional balance and proportion to immediately distinguish our bags. When we design each bag, we draft them on autocad like our buildings and draw latitudinal and longitudinal sections through them. We look at the skin/structure like walls that make up the form, in some places filled in and others open windows to expose the inner layers. Also, like buildings, we put as much attention to the interior of the bags as the exterior, making sure that every detail has been thought through. The inside of a house has to be as beautiful as the exterior.

What's next for ita collection?

We plan to expand our range of products in the future. We would love to include apparel, fragrance and home accessories to eventually grow into a full lifestyle brand.

The Farahclutch, pictured here, is now one of five finalists for Best Handbag in the Overall Style & Design category for the 2012 Independent Handbag Design Awards competition hosted by InStyle Magazine & Handbag Designer 101.

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