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Bag Lady

[whitespace] Sharon Dunham Text by Diana Rupp
Photo by David Fortin

When designer Sharon Dunham started working for her mother-in-law, Patricia Walker, close to 20 years ago, she didn't know the first thing about making handbags. To this day Dunham credits Walker's unique sense of style as the primary inspiration behind her playful designs. And although Dunham has her hands full designing the entire Walker line (notable creations for spring and summer are nylon multicolor mesh bags in vibrant sherbet-toned pastels and plasticized Mexican oilcloth bags), as well as for the likes of Anna Sui, this self-professed flea-market junkie is developing a collection of one-of-kind bags decorated with bits of vintage costume jewelry and precious fabrics "cut up from old ball gowns." With all this activity, Dunham still finds time to search out industrial fabrics for her "simple, useful and durable" designs, in such unlikely places as engineering conferences and automotive trade shows. The recent rise of innovative signature handbags that more than hold their own in the fashion world is a trend that Dunham appreciates. "It's interesting to see how accessories are now dictating what you wear with them," she says. "If you have a brown Prada bag, you pick out something nice to go with it, rather than the other way around. It's about time."

Walker bags are available at Penelope Starr, 136 Fillmore, 415/621-7970. Overstock from past seasons can be had at One-Halfs, 1837 Polk at Jackson, 415/775-1416.

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From the May 4-17, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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