Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bedazzling World of Enid Collins

Oh Enid Roessler Collins, how I love you so! OK, so since I’m always yacking about how everyone could use a little “granny chic” in their wardrobe I thought it’d be fun to talk about the Grande Dame of Granny Chic: Enid Collins. Long before the bedazzler was a glimmer in your mama's eye, Enid designed a collection of sequin-sprinkled, jeweled-covered purses that had the ladies swooning. She was probably the first person to make cute and kitschy chic.

Not a lot is known about her, but from what I can tell, little miss Enid was born in San Antonio, Texas, attended Texas Women's University in the 1940's, where she majored in fashion/costume design and eventually met and married up and coming sculptor, Frederic Collins.

"Her two main purses were the wooded mahogany box bag and the canvas bucket bag.  The bucket bag had a wooden bottom, leather trim, and was made from linen.  The backgrounds were often matte-screened or painted by hand. Her whimsical designs were reminiscent of the Texas landscape and surrounding abundant critter life.  The purses were covered with roadrunners, lady bugs, peacocks (raised on nearby farms), horses and the like.  You would find her box bags and purses disputing colorful saying of the late 1950's....I can still hear my mother preaching, "Money doesn't grow on trees." only to find money did grow on trees if you owned an Enid Collins!”

from Retro Vintage Collectibles


By the late 1960s, Collins bags were carried at over 2,000 stores nationwide (including Nieman Marcus, ooh lala!) and were a “must have” for the stylish woman. Today her original bags have become highly sought after collector’s items with price tags for the more popular bags (hello Sophistkit!) going for $200+. The good news is you can still score them for around $20-30 if you have a keen eye. Collectors prize the box bags, I think because they are the most like "art". I personally love the bucket bags because I love to carry them and these are larger and a bit more practical. The box bags are really cute though and each comes with a little mirror inside, perfect for reapplying lippy.

Collins advertisements appeared in upscale mags such as Vogue and The New Yorker and many featured Enid and Frederic’s daughter Cynthia carrying a Collins bag, and the catchphrase “There goes that Collins girl!” Love it! I wish I could find a copy of those ads. The closest I’ve come are these brill pages from an Enid catalog posted by Cathy of California:

Aren't they amazing?? That bottom picture really cracks me up—for starters, what the heck kinda party is that?? It's crammed full of ladies! I also love how the woman on the right so Penelope (Kristin Wig's character on SNL), "Wow! Sally you have an Enid Collins bag? I have one too." "Erm, well yes I actually have 50 Enid Collins bags, and this one happens to be Enid's own personal bag, and it was created by this little owl who lives in a tree on the moon and designed it especially for me and its a one of a kind yeah, this is probably better than any bag you have."

I have quite a few Enid Collins bags ("yes we know Penelope"), some from thrift stores, some from antique malls and some from eBay. They are such sunshiney fun and almost like little works of art on yer arm.

Images: From my own collection. Bottom three from the amazing collection of Xie Kitchen. She has so many rare bags, you have to check them out.

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  1. Wow - absolutely amazing! I love those bags!

  2. The bags are fancy!

  3. I'm still in tears. When you posted photos of your outfit last week and donning your Enid Collins bag I ran to my phone... not walked or sauntered, I bolted to pick up my phone and call my mother and beg her to send me her Enid Collins bags. She had several. That call ended in utter sadness. She took those bags to the thrift store in the 90s. I couldn't believe it. My mother who kept everything had no idea of her treasure. I can remember eyeing those bags when she used them, and when they sat on the closet shelves. Dammit!

    Oh... I'm guessing that's a really happening Tupperware or Shaklee party. It seems too social for bridge club.

  4. OH GOD! I LOVE the butterfly purse!!!!!!!!! I must own an Enid Collins bag.

  5. I love her bags. Thanks for writing such a nice piece on this wonderful, and fun designer from the glorious 60s. I've found a few of her bags in vintage stores, but never anything great and that was in decent shape. I'd carry one in a heart beat though.

  6. your blog just gets better and better everytime i visit :D! i had no idea your bright fun bags had sisters! they're all so cute, but i love that owl one xD!

  7. What kind of party is that with all the ladies you ask?

    TUPPERWARE! Wasn't it all the rage back in the day?

  8. actually I don't think that lady in the bottom photo is saying that all all. I think she is checking either her hearing aid or telling her alien honcho captain that she can be beamed back up up because like, this idiot asked me what kind of bag I had and I was all, like good god beam me the frig up scotty!

  9. My mother had one I do believe - it was one of the wooden box type ones with daisies on it. I loved it. She still has it as I recall. I think the grandkids are playing with it now - shudder LOL

  10. i found two enid collins box purses today at a thrift store. yippee!!