Designers recyle hubcaps into handbags

December 12, 1990|By Deborah Hofman | Deborah Hofman,N.Y. Times News Service

NEW YORK Recycling has taken a whimsical turn in the world of fashion as designers adapt American icons from other days and contexts and re-introduce them as accessories.

Susan P. Meisel Decorative Arts in New York sells handbags made by prisoners in the 1930s through 1950s. The bags are woven of cellophane-coated cigarette wrappers ($175).

A few prison purses sometimes turn up at Allan & Suzi in New York where they are about $300. The store also sells vests made by a Connecticut artist, Janet Cooper, out of old soda-bottle caps ($80) and bottle-cap necklaces ($50). All stores are in New York.

Civilization in New York has necklaces of 30s flattened bottle caps and canning jar lids ($20 to $100). The necklaces often include nails, tacks and buttons ($20 to $120).

Scarlett O'Hara wasn't the only one to look at a drapery tassel and see a fashion accessory. Curtains, tie-backs and other upholstery items have been rediscovered.

At Suzy Wong, there are micro-miniskirts ($49), made of old ties, that end in a zigzag hemline. There are also baby-doll dresses in upholstery fabric and psychedelic kitchen tablecloths from the 1960s ($65), and hats fashioned of black-and-white-checkered vinyl tablecloths ($72).

Ann Jacobs America sells handbags made of vintage Mercedes hubcaps with a black leather lining as buttery as the upholstery of the original, with a luggage-style latch ($1,000).

The store also carries vests ($175) by Magamin Ware made of silk curtains, velvet draperies, tassels, ropes and tiebacks from the 1920s and 1930s.

Originals by Teresa makes hats from household fabrics: 1940s draperies, Victorian paisley piano shawls of wool challis ($110 and $125), and Pucci silks ($100).

Savvy recyclers go directly to the source, like some of the shoppers who frequent M&J trimming in New York.

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