Meet the designer: Giovanna Sessi-Knott
Giovanna Sessi-Knott is a luxury handbag designer from Surrey, and also a huge champion of sustainable fashion. She's speaks five languages and before fashion had careers in finance and interior design. She also has two children. Phew! We're not sure how she's does it - but we caught up to find out.
What inspired you to start designing handbags?
As a working mother, I always felt challenged with the limitations when choosing a traditional everyday bag. Being a multi-tasker in a single day, I needed versatility of use as well as styling
Your background is finance – and later interior design – how did you make the step into designing handbags.
My father worked in fashion and I always had a great interest in what he was doing. From early age I enjoyed drawing and my love for aesthetics turned into a passion for art and design as I grew up.
During my business and economics studies, I applied for summer jobs in Italy and Spain and worked in fashion. After completing my Masters, I went into finance and worked first in Vienna and then London.
But when I started a family my lifestyle and priorities changed abruptly, and working 14 hours a day was no longer sustainable. And this is when I had my morph-moment.
I re-trained as an interior designer and set up a business. But while my life had found a new balance, I was still multi-tasking between the business and the children. I needed to be hands-free at the playground with my toddlers, but I also needed an overflow bag to keep baby wipes, toys, snacks, water bottles etc. I couldn’t stand looking like a bag lady – and this triggered my next morph moment. I developed the idea of a colour-coordinated set of handbags.
What have been the highlights?
My happy customers and the recognition I have received from the Fashion Industry and Sustainable Fashion Space. The brand is supported by the Conscious Fashion Campaign, we have won awards every year since the launch and I am a proud member of the British Fashion Council.
And the greatest challenges?
Doing it all by myself! It is very challenging to find great collaborators. During the pandemic it has been challenging to manage the business and the family simultaneously whilst keeping up self-care. It is work in progress!
You’re passionate about sustainability – what prompted this?
I am worried about climate change and my mission was to replace hide leather with a material that is ethical and sustainable, but is a like-for-like replacement without the negative impact in terms emissions and use of natural resources. I also feel that we over consume and waste too much, which prompted me to create a handbag made to stand the test of time in looks and quality – to encourage people to buy less.
Which designers do you admire? And why?
I admire Coco Chanel because her designs are timeless and represent iconic chic. I admire Victoria Beckham for choosing only the best quality fabrics and creating designs tailored to fit like gloves and valorise the female figure. I admire Stella McCartney for setting an example in sustainable and ethical fashion.
What inspired the name – The Morphbag?
The metamorphosis we go through in life as women and the morphing that is required by our multi-tasking days as mother, wife and professionals.
The Morphbag is a trio of handbags, designed to work together as an all-you-need handbag set. What made you decide to produce a set of handbags? Would you ever consider marketing each one individually?
Modern women are very busy. We rush from meetings to running errands to the playgrounds with our children to date nights. We get dressed in the morning and we do not have time to get changed during the day. We like to look stylish but feel comfortable. I felt that all these needs screamed for a solution and a creation of a new every-day handbag concept. This is why I developed a colour-coordinated set of handbags that morph with our days and our activities and allow us to multi-bag with style.
The reversible tote in the sets was designed to give styling versatility. All colourways in the collection have been carefully selected in dual colours that adapt to all 3 basic colours of a woman’s capsule wardrobe: navy, neutral and black. The current collection was tailor-made for the multi-tasker. Multi-taskers cannot fit their days in one single handbag and this is why The Morphbag by GSK comes in a set.
Plans for the future? Any new designs on the horizon?
I am currently developing my new collection. This one will include individual items designed specifically for different types of lifestyles.