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Pocketbook Poodles

November 20, 1998|BOOTH MOORE

A day out on the town with one of Renaissance Babe's posh purses gives new meaning to walking the dog.

When Jennifer Butt began designing the one-of-a-kind creations a few months ago, she didn't have to look far for a model. The handmade poodles that grace the front of each bag are a vision of her own pooch, Renoir.

Purses come in red, camel, pink and gray wool, dark brown tweed, leopard-print faux fur and denim, and are lined in satin. The poodles are crafted out of pompoms and beads, and each one has its own name. There's the rose-colored Rosette La Fleur, the baby pink Bebe Bijoux, the powder blue movie star Fifi L'Etoile, and a denim dog, Levette La Perle, to name a few.

But the purses are only a pet project. Butt's passion is performing. She's been in the acting business for 20 years, originating the role of Madame Thenardier for the Broadway production of "Les Miserables" and appearing in the first national company of "Cats."

The actress has fashioned accessories (picture frames, hats, brocade purses and reversible backpacks) as gifts for years but only recently started to pitch them to stores and magazines.

"My backpacks were out on the table at Elle magazine to be included in a fashion spread," Butt remembers. "But at the last minute, they didn't make the cut. It's kind of like acting."

Now she spends her time shuttling between New York and L.A., where she lives with her three real dogs, including Renoir, who will always be near and dear to her heart and, well, her pocketbook.

Posh Poodles by Renaissance Babe, $280 to $400 at Jennifer Kaufman, Beverly Center, 131 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. (310) 854-1058.

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