Ipa-Nima Cannes Taffeta Feather BagHanoi-based Ipa-Nima is Vietnam’s premier designer label of handmade bags and fashion accessories. Care to know the most sizzzzzzling hot handbags on the market, as toted by Hollywood starletts like Toni Braxton, Sarah Michelle-Gellar and Cate Blanchett? Founded in 1997 by a lawyer, Hong Kong-born Christina Yu, the Vietnamese capitol’s Ipa-Nima boutique has grand ambitions from the outset, exporting colorful, individually patterned handbags to stores around the world.

I took along a small Ipa-Nima bag to go travelling in Laos and met an American journalist, who had packed two for her foray into the same unlikely region. The beginning of a cult cannot be far off.

Some of the prestigious retailers include Barney’s of Manhattan and Nordstrom in the USA, or Harvey Nichols and Harrod’s in London. Within a few years, Ipa-Nima has single-handedly developed a strong national export market that has both celebrated Vietnamese workmanship and created opportunities for all Vietnamese craftsmen and manufacturers. The circle of their loyal supporters welcomed “Friends” stylist Debra McGuire, who liked to sprinkle a good dose of Ipa-Nima into the cast’s wardrobe whilst the show aired on TV.

While the list of Ipa-Nima-wearing stars and big names in the public eye grows by the minute, and the success of the boutique continues to flourish, there are no plans to quit Vietnam for the bright lights of the world’s fashion capitols.

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