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Bags with Character 

A Loyola Graduate's designs materialize into imaginative accessories

Who says doodling is a waste of time? Rather than writing out detailed descriptions and daily accounts in her travel journal, Jenee Naquin, a native of Eunice, created an animated character to sum up some of her more interesting experiences during trips abroad. A few years later, that "little character who gets herself caught in funny situations" became the inspiration and namesake of her new line of handbags: Cristie Alfie.

While studying graphic design at Loyola, Naquin took a sewing class at JoAnn Fabrics. Something about the process inspired her, and she went on to get a degree in accessories design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. After graduation, Naquin worked for Anthony Luciano making one-of-a-kind luxury handbags in New York. She began to see the promise in her own designs when she moved to Hong Kong and partnered with her friend Alfie Kong, whose factory connections and extensive experience in the handbag industry — handling American clients like American Eagle and Bongo brand bags — made her the perfect complement to Naquin's creativity and design skills.

"Alfie had a lot of ideas about what the look and feel would be," says Naquin. "She is also a big part of picking out the fabric and leathers. She can just look at a swatch of something and know if it will work for the construction."

The label's name is a combination of Naquin's first name, Cristie, and Hong's first name, Alfie. In developing the brand's personality, Kong kept going back to the little character she'd seen in Naquin's travel journals. "One day she just said, 'That's Cristie Alfie!'" recalls Naquin. And in November 2006, they launched their new company.

Naquin describes the bags as playful and humorous. "We try to include a funny story about all of the bags," says Naquin, whose Web site, www.cristiealfie.com, gives the names and descriptions of each of the bags, such as The Post, The Eleanor and The Shirley Temple.

Currently available at museum shops and boutiques in New York this fall, Cristie Alfie bags will be available in Japan, China, Greece and Italy. Here in New Orleans, you can find them at Fairy (5715 Magazine St., 269-2033).

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click to enlarge q-ind-15655.jpeg
click to enlarge q-ind-15655.jpeg
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