By Ronda Racha Penrice
Photography by T. Lynne Pixley
Tamara Bowens is easily one of Atlantaâ€™s most fashionable women. Last year, the former SVP/CMO for The Dawson Co., a multigenerational, black-owned real estate firm, made her greatest style statement to date. She launched BowensBergeron, a design house featuring handcrafted wooden handbags, with custom furniture master Ray Bergeron. Described as â€œcarved couture at its best,â€ BowensBergeron creations, consisting of such exotic woods as English sycamore and African zebrawood, attracted attention quickly with its inaugural line, the Lifestyle Collection. Bowens is scheduled to host a trunk show on September 8 at Saks Fifth Avenue at Phipps Plaza in conjunction with Fashionâ€™s Night Out, and earlier this year, Randolph Duke (whose gowns Angelina Jolie and Hilary Swank donned during their Oscar winning moments), incorporated her stylish clutches into one of his own trunk shows in L.A. BowensBergeronâ€™s sophomore collection, Chroma, is even more chic. â€œWeâ€™re more playful with the colors and the textures and really just funked it up,â€ Bowens says.
Awed by Bergeronâ€™s custom woodwork, Bowens was compelled to work with him. Yet, she wasnâ€™t sure how Bergeron would respond to making handbags. Two weeks after sharing a sketch with him, he produced a prototype clutch made of African wenge. Suddenly, Texas native Bowens was constantly fielding â€œWhere did you get that bag?â€ inquiries from admirers around town and the duo knew they were onto something.
JETSETTERS AND CONNOISSEURS
The debut collection was inspired by influential women such as her gal pals Brenda Freeman, CMO at Cartoon Network, and business exec Sandra Anderson Baccus: â€œBrenda travels more than anybody I know, and the perfect bag for her is the Jetsetter, a small clutch that you can put your essentials in and go. And then I pegged the Connoisseur for Sandra because itâ€™s for the woman who is a collector of fine things.â€
â€œI can remember being a kid and going shopping for school and I would rather go buy one really nice thing than have 10 mediocre things. My mom would ask, â€˜Are you really going to spend your entire budget on one item?â€™ And Iâ€™d say, â€˜Yep.â€™ â€
Cheap chic: My favorite tank tops are from Target. Theyâ€™re called Long and Lean; theyâ€™re $6, and when Iâ€™m done with them, I just go buy some more. Best bar: The Bazaar by JosÃ© AndrÃ©s at SLS Hotel Beverly Hills because the gift shop is interspersed throughout the bar. Cocktail rave: The 10 Grand Margarita at AutÃ©ntico INC Street Food in Roswell. Itâ€™s worth all 10 grand because it is delicious. Shoeicide: I like the way Louboutins look, but I donâ€™t like how they feel. Design anticipation: Iâ€™m curious to see where Rachel Roy goes next with her collection because her style has changed over time.