The daughter of a knitwear designer and an interior decorator, Kauffman, who grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, is inspired by historys rare birds (Diana Vreeland, Peggy Guggenheim, Elsie de Wolfe), and could just be one herself. It was Infinite Variety, a book by Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino about Marchesa Luisa Casati, the Italian aristocrat who kept cheetahs for pets, and whose former home is now the Guggenheim Museum in Venice, that inspired Kauffman to become a designer. While reading it for the sixth or seventh time, she had a dream of a womans hands holding a notebook and turning the pages. On each page was a different handbag. After she woke up, Kauffman used every scrap of paper she could find to sketch the designs, 16 total, which became her first collection. Kauffman makes her handbags with exquisite materials including beetle wings and pheasant feathers.
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times