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I was recently invited to the Debra C Beverly Hills boutique at The Crossroads Shopping Center in Carmel, California to get a preview of the new Fall 2017 collection from handbag designer, Ella McHugh, and to discover the inspiration behind her sophisticated pieces.

Made by third generation Italian artisans, Ella McHugh creates her chic, art deco and 50’s inspired day and evening bags with the strong females close to her in mind.

Handbag Designer Ella McHugh

Ella McHugh Fall 2017 Collection

For Fall 2017 the designer explored the drama of the cosmos. Featuring new and unique silhouettes such as Kay II an elongated rectangular shoulder bag and Basia crescent top zip bag, the collection is an array of deep space shades and radiant hues. Using the finest materials such as karung, alligator and calf leather, the designer completes her odyssey with her signature touch—sleek, semi-precious stones which materialize on each design in black onyx, pyrite, amethyst, or smoky quartz.

Not to mention – a few notable fans of the brand are Christina Hendricks & Constance Zimmerman. Which is understandable, as the elegant collection is both eye-catching and timeless. From glamorous metallic finishes and sleek, contemporary silhouettes to bold semi-precious stone accents, it’s no wonder that Ella McHugh pieces are popping up in high-end retail stores across the country.

CLP: How and why did you get into designing luxury handbags?

Ella McHugh: “All my life, I’ve had a love of handbags. It runs in my family. My grandmother, a renowned opera singer and surgeon, had a huge collection.  She had great style and always said you could tell a lot about a woman by her choice of handbags.  My mother is an antiques dealer so I grew up surrounded by beautiful craftsmanship and timeless appeal.  I hope my collection reflects their influences and my passion for design.

I was working as a contract lawyer, but I knew I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial and creative. I had always dreamed of designing handbags and decided to take some classes at FIT.  Subsequently, I showed my designs to a few people I knew in the fashion industry and they encouraged me to launch my collection.”

Handbag Designer Ella McHugh

CLP: Your signature designs have a retro-inspired look. What do you love about styles from previous decades? Was there a specific era you identify with the most, and why?

EM: I love the clean lines and architectural shapes of Art Deco design and the glamour of old world Hollywood.  I strive to inject elements of each while keeping my designs relevant and modern.”

CLP: Describe the type of woman who loves your line. What makes her choose your pieces?

EM: “The magic formula I try to achieve in my collections is for the designs to be rooted in classic Art Deco style and updated with luxurious materials.  If I’ve done my job this results in streamlined and sophisticated designs that appeal to a broad range of women who appreciate the importance of handbags in their wardrobes.”

CLP: Why do you incorporate semi-precious stones into your signature designs?

EM: “One of my favorite elements of design is mixing materials and textures. The stones add another layer of detail and interest.

Handbag Designer Ella McHugh

CLP: What is your favorite aspect of designing luxury handbags?

EM: I love every aspect of designing my collections, but my favorite is the choice of materials.  It’s exciting to take the same silhouette, change the materials and create a completely different look!  So, I spend a great deal of time finding fabulous materials and using them in different ways.”

To learn more about Ella McHugh designs, visit

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