She's Got FLARE: Ela Kowalewska, Handbag Designer

Meet this month's inspiring and stylish Canadian

Designs from Ela Kowalewska's ELA label

Photo by Norman Wong

Ela Kowalewska

Photo by Norman Wong

Ela Kowalewska

Photo by Norman Wong

As designer of the beloved ELA M.I.L.C.K. clutch (money, ID, lipstick, cell, keys), this rising Canadian accessory star knows a thing or two about finishing touches. After stints in PR at Hermès in Toronto and Burberry in London, Kowalewska started an eponymous hand-bag collection—with husband Martin Aldorsson—that strikes a perfect balance between easy luxury and playful polish. While her line has won her many devotees and stockists (including Holt Renfrew), her incandescent personal style is just as admirable.

Designer loyalty
“A.L.C., Helmut Lang, Acne, Sandro and 3.1 Phillip Lim. I like pieces that are simple and have that original touch.”

Sweet spot:
“The Oak [in London]. The restaurant has a down-to-earth ambient atmosphere and it’s also the place where I unexpectedly met my husband.”

Spring flings:
“Tasaki by Thakoon riveted screw earrings, Yves Saint Laurent Cardinal Loafer pumps and a Wilson Blade Lite Racket.”

Favourite getaway:
“Gothenburg on the southern coast of Sweden where my husband’s family lives.”

Signature scent: “Lady Vengeance by Juliette Has a Gun.”

Beauty essentials: “For my skin I use Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil. I’m also a fan of Dior Hydra Life tinted moisturizer for that porcelain, dewy look. My favourite lipstick is YSL Rosy Coral #52.”

Top shops:
“The Narwhal in Toronto, NK in Stockholm and 10 Corso Como in Milan.”

Investment piece:
“Hermès Collier de Chien cuff.”

Shoe fetish:
“My YSL pumps with tassels in the most beautiful purple suede. They go effortlessly with a tee and a pair of skinny jeans.”

Cheap thrills:
“Fresh flowers, especially peonies. The energy in our house just changes when we get our weekly fresh flower fix. And A Game of Thrones, the novels by George R.R. Martin. Addictive!”

Caffeine fix:
“An Argentinean cafe called La Merceria, Toronto”

Travel essentials:
“As a designer I really believe that the “eye must travel” as I get most of my inspiration when I’m away. Lately we have been combing a little vacation around work so Italy (Bologna) is a place where we go every year to do our leather buy and then we have a day or two to explore. I’m a light packer and usually bring things that don’t wrinkle and easy pieces that I can layer.”

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