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Crocodile love at Mr. Chow

November 17, 2010 |  2:40 pm


Still on a high from Saturday's fabulous Museum of Contemporary Art happening, the art-fashion crowd gathered again on Tuesday at Mr. Chow to celebrate the launch of men's accessories under the Nancy Gonzalez brand.

The line, which includes duffles and totes, is named after her son Santiago, who was the evening's guest of honor at the dinner hosted by his college pal China Chow, dressed in a stunning gold Chanel collar and black cocktail dress.

All of the ladies were carrying Nancy Gonzalez flap clutches that matched their outfits, including actresses Jennifer Morrison in a cream Max Mara dress, and Tracee Ellis Ross in a vintage nightie paired with a tailored blazer. Cameron Silver was decked out in Lanvin for H&M days before that line hits stores, and artist Rosson Crow rocked a psychedelic print vintage Oscar de la Renta jumpsuit bought at Shareen. (With her platinum hair and her penchant for wearing long dresses, Crow is emerging as quite a stylish figure.)

MOCA's Jeffrey Deitch and LACMA's Michael Govan were also there, enjoying Mr. Chow's famous chicken satay, alongside artists Doug Aitken and Ed Ruscha, gallery owner Honor Fraser, Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Sharon Stone, James Caan, Shiva Rose and Lisa Eisner.  

I chatted for a few moments with Santiago about Nancy Gonzalez, the stealth luxury crocodile accessories brand created by his mother in Colombia in 1988, and the new men's line, which launched Tuesday at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills:

How did the men's line come about?

It's me, it's my pieces I travel with. I never carry anyone else's bags. I always design my own. Last year, Harrods was opening a huge men's department and they asked me to do a croc shop for them. I was calling the pieces Nancy Gonzalez. And two weeks before the opening, they said men won't buy bags called Nancy. So we named it Santiago Gonzalez. It's very limited. It's available at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills, Harrods in London and Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

Is there a signature piece? Croc1

It's this bag I carry everywhere. It has a zipper in the middle, but I never empty the zipper compartment until I"m at home. But the sides are like a tote to carry all my magazines and my computer. It's a system of bags I work with and live with and travel with 200 days out of the year.

What is the enduring appeal of crocodile as a luxe material?

The world is revering nature more and more, and the truest luxury is uniqueness. I saw that at Bergdorf Goodman when my specialist was choosing from five of the same black clutches which one she wanted to buy. The skins were all different. The uniqueness is what attracts people.

Why launch in Los Angeles?

I'm very curious about Los Angeles. The artists I've been buying lately are all California artists. This is the place that is booming. I came for the MOCA event, which was awesome. At LACMA, the new Renzo Piano building is amazing, especially the use of light. If it excites me, it's the right place to launch.  

-- Booth Moore

Top photos left to right: China Chow and Michael Chow; Jennifer Morrison and Santiago Gonzalez; Rosson Crow. Credit: Stephanie Kennan / Wireimage

Bottom photo: Santiago Gonzalez bag ($4,475). Credit: Santiago Gonzalez