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Mixed Bags

September 28, 1997|JUDY PROUTY

"My mother had the most fabulous bags," says Los Angeles-based handbag designer Adriana Caras, recalling the source of her early passion for purses. "The frameworks then were so ladylike and pretty." Caras, 32, who studied fine arts and business at USC, has been creating bags out of Indian fabric, suede and beads for more than five years. About a year ago, she introduced a line of pricier leather bags (inspired by her mom's) that are made in Italy at the same factories that manufacture Gucci and Prada leather goods. From spaghetti-strapped shoulder styles to classic clutches, the bags are made of kid leather and variegated leather ("it looks like wood grain"). Caras describes these as her "modern Audrey Hepburn look." Yet another group features leather tanned with vegetable dyes. Finished with matte-nickel and antiqued brass hardware, most bags have a tongue closure with a scrolled "A" logo. As if two handbag lines weren't enough to keep her hopping, this past summer Caras launched a small collection of fabric shoes. (Caras' bags and shoes can be found at Fred Segal Feet on Melrose Avenue and in Santa Monica, and at Jennifer Kaufman in the Beverly Center.) "I thought it would be great to have little sandals to go with my fabric bags. And besides, I'm a shoe maniac and designing has curbed my buying habits."

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