Debbie Brooks' handbags and jewels are uniquely embellished and, as it turns out, the designer is as colorful and warm as her collections.
We were lucky enough to chat with Brooks recently, mere moments before she was due on a plane bound for Dallas to show her Fall line, and we're sharing the dishy details with you.
NBCDFW: You've been an artist since you were 12, but how did you transition from painting to design?
Brooks: "It was an organic transformation, actually. I have always been a painter, and I find inspiration everywhere. So, when I inherited a collection of vintage handbags from my Aunt, who was in her 90s, I instantly wanted to create something that honored her, as a way to help share her legacy."
NBCDFW: Is it true that you also hand paint displays and tables for the stores that carry your line? Brooks: "Yes! I love to work on furniture, and of course, paint. So, I once did a table for display in a particular store that didn't have the right piece, and it was so popular that I began doing it for many of my retailers. And selling the painted furniture as well!"
NBCDFW: Your other major passion is philanthropy and many of your bags support your causes, but what charitable pursuits are top of mind for you now?
Brooks: "Breast cancer support is one of my biggest passions, as is Alzheimer's. My investment in philanthropy stems from individuals I know who struggle with the diseases personally or within their families, and I just wanted to find a way to help them. My connection to them is what prompted me to create bags like the ones that feature Forget Me Not flowers to support those with Alzheimer's, via sales, and the 'Gwyneth Paltrow' bag, which helps support environmental causes."
NBCDFW: What Fall bag will you be carrying constantly this season?
Brooks: "I'm obsessed with our silver wristlet! It was just featured on 'Extra!' as well, and our shoulder bag in an olive and bronze snakeskin is one of my favorites too. It can go cross-body or shoulder, so it travels perfectly for me."
NBCDFW: Besides your bags, what are you adding to your wardrobe for Fall?
Brooks: "I just bought platform, leopard heels and a pair of major riding boots! I think I may add some Swarovski bling to the boots, but I'm not sure yet. And I'm loving collecting vintage blazers and replacing the sleeves with interesting fabrics from my collections; my current fav is a polka-dot fabric that I can't wait to use. I'm all about recycling my wardrobe!"
NBCDFW: What inspired your Fall collection?
Brooks: "Definitely rock-and-roll and some slightly embarrassing television shows. I adore Lady Gaga, especially her outspoken take on bullying, which is inspiring, and I'm working on a 'Lady Gaga' bag now. I also always watch Glee and Project Runway; they are pure fun and it relaxes me creatively! I was shopping at Mood before it was a pop culture phenomenon thanks to the show."
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention our favorite design feature by Brooks - the custom designed iPad and iPhone covers available via her website. Request your own crystal-covered version or digitally send her a picture to have her create adorable cases or bags for your virtual devices.