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B.F.A. accessory design student Krystal Sokolis won the 2012 Independent Handbag Design Award in the student category. The sixth annual award ceremony, the only handbag competition of its kind in the world, was held in New York City last week and drew some 400 attendees, including designers from dozens of countries.
"I am so thankful," said Sokolis. "This has completely opened the door to the next path in my life. I can't wait to step in and begin designing products with personality."
SCAD's showing at the IHDA was unprecedented, securing three of the five finalist positions. In addition to Sokolis, the other SCAD finalists were Mary Spenser Poletti and Nikki DeLuca.
Emily Blumenthal, the awards' creator and founder of Handbag Designer 101, said this year's contest attracted a record 1,000 handbag entries, which the judges pared down to the final 30 in seven categories.
"We always know every year that we can expect to find great talent with SCAD," said Blumenthal. "The fact that professors encourage their designers to apply and turn out great bags and great designs speaks volumes about the university and those who are running it."
Sokolis' winning handbag was inspired by "a whimsy twist on steampunk," the aesthetic that originates in the romantic elegance of the Victorian era and blends in modern scientific advances.
"Compasses, gears and gadgets are my thing," said Sokolis. "A touch of class to the old-world style, simple in design but complex in technique. My tagline has become 'We have rejected your reality, and have substituted it with our own.'"
Her handbag is a hand-woven leather computer case with a hand-whittled wooden handle and custom-printed gnome fabric for lining. A silhouette of a cicada is cut from a sheet of nugold for the brand, which stands for 'rebirth.'
In addition to earning the award, Sokolis won the opportunity to design for the private label collection, Piazza, for Handbags.com.
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution conferring bachelor's and master's degrees at distinctive locations and online to prepare talented students for professional careers. SCAD offers degrees in more than 40 majors.