Larisa Barrera was born into a very artistic environment. Her parents, Jose and Maria Barrera moved to New York City from Austin Texas when she was three years old. They were young artists graduating from the University of Texas ready to follow their dreams. Arriving in NYC, they started working for a fashion house designing jewelry for the collections. They decided to go on their own and started their own jewelry company “Jose and Maria Barrera “ which has now grown into a well know brand sold to high end stores like Neiman Marcus and specialty boutiques around the world.
Larisa grew up making jewelry and going to market appointments with her parents at a very early age as a way for the family to stay together while they grew the business. By the time Larisa was in high school, Jose and Maria were designing jewelry to accessorize fashion shows for designers such as Oscar de la Renta. This exposure to runway shows inspired Larisa to study fashion design. Larisa attended Rhode Island School of Design with a major in Fashion Design. Through out her time at RISD, she always went back to work in the family business during summers and vacations. In 1990 during one of these summers, Jose received a request to design jewelry for a Vanity Fair cover featuring Cher. Because of time constraints on Jose, Larisa gathered Jose's jewelry components to design and assemble the iconic necklace featured on the 1990 cover. This began the collaboration between father and daughter. After graduating from RISD, Larisa was hired as a design assistant at the fashion house of Badgley Mischka where she worked for three years purchasing fabrics and designing the bead work for their beautiful beaded gowns. In 1996, Larisa rejoined the family jewelry business as a co-designer along side her father, Jose.
A new business is born: Larisa Barrera Handbags.....
After joining the family business, Larisa decided to combine her knowledge of jewelry design with the experience she gained at Badgley Mischka working with the beautiful hand applied beading from India. She had always been a collector of everything vintage: vintage clothes, handbags, hats and home décor. At the request of Dawn Mello, fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman, she took the techniques for making the hand made evening bags of the past and made them new by adding her modern twist. Larisa made her own patterns to create new bag shapes. The beading for the bags were designed more as a painting with layers of delicate fabrics embroidered with sequins and beads. In an effort to expand the collections, the frames for the bags had to be designed and fabricated by Larisa and Jose and made in house by the family jewelry company. These unique and special frames were designed with jeweled clasps that reflect the details in the beadwork and matching beaded handles were added to finish the now much collectable bags.
Larisa started her handbag line under her own brand in 1997 while at the same time working on design and sales at the Barrera family jewelry company. It was a full partnership with her parent's business since all the handbag production was made on site at the jewelry factory. The frames with jeweled clasps, the beaded handles and full bag assembly was made by hand by a small group of artisans in the garment center of NYC. Larisa’s handbags were sold at Bergdorf Goodman NY, Neiman Marcus stores nation wide, specialty stores across the country as well as in Russia, France, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. It was at that time that the brand became more recognizable as Larisa became the “go to designer “ of red carpet celebrity stylists to create custom handbags to match the red carpet gowns. In 2009 production became too expensive to continue in house so a decision was made to suspend production for the time being making her handbags highly collectible. There is a limited edition of stock with intentions of creating a new handbag line in the near future keeping in mind the lifestyle and needs of the modern women.