Victoria Stowe is a leading expert in the history of luxury handbag brands, a fashion historian, an educator who authored and taught several professional courses at the University of Washington and the Art Institute of Seattle, and the founder of the Americana Luxury Handbags Archive.
For over a decade, she has been operating an online luxury boutique of unique vintage handbags and accessories, InStyle Classics. The book - a labor of love that took a decade to create - is her tribute to the ultimate status symbol in fashion: a classic alligator handbag.
Victoria came to the U.S. in the early 1990s, and has a blended, bilingual family with grown children. A trained educator and linguist, she started her professional career as a business translator-interpreter at international conferences, and as a consult for various USAID training programs. Later, she founded an export company that specialized in shipping private label food products overseas under the auspices of the USDA.
In 1999, Victoria made a life changing decision taking interest in the luxury handbags history to follow her passion for style and fashion. She started buying and selling luxury handbags handcrafted decades ago by top American mid-century designer brands.
She was also studying and researching their 100-year history with the idea to publish a fashion encyclopedia, and also to put together a comprehensive collection that one day would be displayed for public viewing in a gallery or a museum. To learn about luxury vintage in-depth, in order to answer her customers' questions, she has invested a great deal of time, effort and resources into researching the American legacy brands.
Soon, hundreds of files were accumulated in her computer, and many dozens of old Vogue and Harper's Bazaar magazines (her main research source) were piling around. That was when she decided that it was the right time to start putting together her book.
The research was completed by 2004-2005, the manuscript was finished in 2006 and submitted to the publisher in 2007, who confirmed its acceptance for publication in 2009. Victoria then started working on creating her original photography and illustrations for her book that was published in 2010 by Schiffer Publishing.
This is the story of how this long-needed encyclopedia of the 100-year history of ultimate status symbols in fashion was born.