How do you make your bag more “you”? That’s the key question when it comes to totes right now. And the fashion pack’s favourite answer? With a vibrant Boyarde hand painting of course, writes Claire Brayford...
Boyarde Messenger is the pop artist being commissioned by the likes of Rihanna, Laura Bailey, Charlotte Dellal and Tamara Ecclestone to emblazon their Vuittons, Goyards and Hermes handbags with her kitsch colourful creations. Whether it’s a troop of My Little Ponies with the slogan, “You mess with me, you mess with my whole family,” or a painting of the Queen saying “Absolutely fabulous darling!” – if you have the wherewithal, this is the ultimate in customisation (just search #itsnotabagitsaboyarde to get a taste of some of the amazing designs). “I think people love to feel unique and one of a kind,” the artist explains. “Personalisation allows someone to be creative and put their own stamp on their items so they feel more precious; it helps individualise their own style.” Thankfully for the rest of us, Boyarde has just teamed up with British fashion label L.K.Bennett to design a range of leather stickers so that you can add your initials or spell out your favourite slogan on your bag, notebook or mobile phone. “I like a challenge,” Boyarde says. “In fact I have been known to paint on anything from walls to women’s derrieres. Every canvas is different and requires different prepping and painting methods. Embracing these different methods, and understanding the surfaces, is my strength.” She began working on accessories when encouraged by her friend Charlotte Dellal to hand paint 100 pairs of Charlotte Olympia platform shoes, which were a huge success. Then last year, L.K.Bennett asked her to customise their popular Marial cross-body bag with her letter designs for some of the UK’s most influential bloggers. The blogger bags caused a stampede of enquiries with customers desperate to carry the same. “It went absolutely mad,” she admits. “The L.K.Bennett x Boyarde letters remain the most sought-after letter style.” However Boyarde admits that when L.K.Bennett first approached her she was a little reticent. “As an artist, I was not keen to simply monogram bags – all of my previous work had involved more elaborate designs,” she explains. “I was trying to figure out a way to embrace monogramming and the movement towards personalisation but I wanted to do it in a signature Boyarde way, that held artistic value. Then I realised the solution was staring me in the face. My company logo is my name, made out of my own artwork. It clicked. I wanted to fill the letters with a fun and colourful design that was very Boyarde, but that also complimented the sophisticated and chic nature of the L.K.Bennett customer.” We love it when everyone gets to join the fashion party – so we caught up with the inspiring artist to find out a little bit more about her career, her style and how she got that amazing name. Words: Claire Brayford | Go to www.lkbennett.com
British painter Boyarde Messenger
Tell us about your journey as an artist...
I actually began primarily as a photographer, which is my area of expertise. I visited Belize in my late 20s, where I met my husband. It was Belize that provided me with my first ‘unusual canvas.’ I became fascinated with painting on the female form. My body art addressed the stigma attached to nudity and what is deemed acceptable. This fascination with the female form transcended well in to the pop art idiom; my Pop Art Bottoms. I am now best recognised as a pop artist, my Pop Art brand is known for embracing and hand painting ‘unusual canvases’ from the female body to luxury fashion accessories.
Why do you think your designs are so popular?
I think my style is colourful, witty and little bit mischievous, a combination that is popular to people. The colours and graphic impact of the designs reflects my own personality, and definitely keeps things fun and uplifting.
How long is your current waiting list?
It depends on the design you choose, however with the lead up to Christmas, and some exciting projects in the pipeline, the bag queue is quickly filling up!
What is the most priceless thing you have ever painted on?
I have painted on so many exquisitely valuable Hermes Birkins, but when it comes to priceless, I love to paint one-off unique designs for clients, where the narrative is personal to them and encapsulates a special message or memory in a Boyarde way. For example one of my first clients gave me her Birkin to paint that was given to her by her husband on her honeymoon – it was a treasured possession for her. I painted a fabulous Roger Rabbit Casablanca mash up for her, which she loved.
And what is the strangest?
Aside from the many women who send in nude photos of themselves asking to be my body-painting model, I have also had some fun accessory painting requests. One of my most unusual but brilliant commissions was a rapping pug dog on a humidor box, which I absolutely loved painting.
Tell us about your unique name?
Well… my father was playing snooker at the Chelsea Arts Club with his friend Roy and the topic of baby names came up. During this discussion they happened to be smoking a packet of ‘Boyarde’ cigarettes, hence Boyarde. My mother however tells a very different story. She claims I was named after the 1930’s film, called ‘The Boyarde Plot’ about the Boyardes who tried to overthrow Ivan the Terrible… so take your pick.
Do you think your unusual name has helped in your career?
I hated my name when I was a kid, I got bullied and teased a lot, but I love it now. As an artist it is great, as it is very distinct and memorable. It is always good to stand out in the creative industry.
Do you know how much a Boyarde painting increases the value of a bag by?
I actually have no idea, but I did read an article with someone who concluded that it raised the value significantly as the bag became an investment. Only time will tell…
Will you be customising your bag with L.K.Bennett leather stickers? What word or slogan will they spell?
Definitely, I love them. I think I would stick to the classic, and go with my initials. For enquiries visit lkbennett.co.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org