It is usually difficult to separate “luxury handbags” and “leather”. But that’s exactly what Jill Fraser was looking for: leather-free luxury handbags. Endless searching proved fruitless, therefore she and her partner Milan Lazich founded Jill Milan in 2010.

The brand stands for luxury fashion accessories without cruelty. While the headquarter is in the San Francisco Bay Area, the handbags are made in limited quantity by an artisan family in Italy who specializes in creating handbags and accessories for Europe’s most respected luxury fashion houses, and portion of the proceeds are donated to charities that rescue ex-racehorses. Jill Milan has been a sponsor of The Genesis Awards, an event hosted by The Human Society of the United States that honors individuals from media and entertainment industries for their work of promoting animal welfare.

(From left to right) Milan Lazich, Countess Michelle Czernin von Chudenitz,
and Jill Fraser

On Wednesday, September 12, 2012. Countess Michelle Czernin von Chudenitz and Rajeev Madhavan hosted Jill Milan Fall 2012 Collection cocktail reception with the co-founders at Frey Norris Contemporary & Modern Gallery, 161 Jessie Street, San Francisco.

The pictures Chris took that evening of Jill Milan Fall 2012 Collection (as well as teasers from the Spring/Summer 2013 line) are located at the bottom of the post, but first it’s worth noting that even if you look at them closely, you barely can tell they’re not made of leather. In its absence, high quality PVC-free and cruelty-free faux leathers and patents, velvets, and ultrasuedes. The handbags are simple but bold at the same time, and the details are clean and focused.

The Jill Milan Fall 2012 handbags vary from evening, day, and business, however the evening bags truly shone in presentation that night. And no wonder they are such hits with W Magazine (the Art Deco Clutch was in the April 2012 issue in “Most Wanted” feature; 450 Sutter was featured in the September 2012 issue) and Hollywood celebrities. Anne Hathaway carried 450 Sutter at London premier of Dark Knight Rises; Eva Longoria, Blake Lively, Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Ashley Jones (True Blood) were a handful of many celebrities that were seen carrying Jill Milan.

(From left to right)Sara with the Art Deco clutch, Ellian Raffoul with the 450 Sutter, Hanna with the Art Deco, and Barbara with the Holland Park.
Scout Models

Several weeks before the reception, I had the chance to send Jill Fraser several questions. She was really kind to review and answer them via email correspondence. Below is the short Q&A, and I hope you get a little bit of a glimpse of Jill Fraser and her Jill Milan brand, which is still young but ready to be a successful brand with strong following.

Fafafoom (F): What are the three adjectives that you would like people to think when someone mentions ‘Jill Milan handbags’?
Jill Fraser (JF): I think once people experience Jill Milan they will come up with their own ways to characterize our products, but one word that comes to mind is “luxurious.” Another word would be “quality,” because the bags are meticulously made and each fabric is selected from the finest Italian fabric houses. There are so many reactions to Jill Milan –generally people appreciate that our bags are handcrafted by an Italian atelier that also makes Europe’s leading luxury brands. Most of our evening clutches are handmade by a jewelry artisan, which also makes them extremely rare. We often only make 30-100 clutches in one style.

F: Please let us know about your philanthropic effort to help former race horses and why this is a crucial connection to the brand.
JF: I have been involved in animal welfare causes for many years, and as a former equestrian I have a special regard for horses in particular. So if we can support such causes we will, but Jill Milan is first and foremost about delivering luxury quality handbags for our customers.

F: Currently, where can we purchase your bags (online and offline) in the U.S. and world-wide?
JF: All Jill Milan products are available online at, as well as through Jill Milan is beginning to be available in retail outlets in the United States as well.

Barbara with Newbury Street Portfolio.
Scout Models

F: What’s your favorite handbag(s) from Jill Milan Fall 2012 Collection?
JF: That’s a difficult choice, but our Newbury Street Portfolio is new for fall and is already very well received. I can carry it pretty much anywhere at any time of day, and it easily accommodates my iPad. Some members of the fashion press corps are carrying it while they cover Fashion Week in New York. There really isn’t another bag like this — it is a real category creator.

F: Do you have any advice for young fashion entrepreneurs out there, especially the ones living in tough, competitive landscape that is SF Bay Area?
JF: Just that the fashion business is much more difficult than it looks! The capital investment is much greater than one anticipates. I’ve heard people say that it will cost five to seven times what you think it will to start a handbag company. This higher number strikes me as still too conservative.

Thank you Jill Fraser and Ellen More of Krupp Group for making the Q&A possible, and special thanks to Kristina Moreno from Handbago for making the introduction between Jill and I!

Last but not least, thank you Christian Hadidjaja for the wonderful pictures of that Jill Milan Fall 2012 Collection cocktail reception. Please click once on the image below to expand the whole album.
[shashin type=”album” id=”215″ size=”medium” crop=”n” columns=”max” caption=”y” order=”date” position=”center”]

Once again, congratulations to Jill Milan for the beautiful leather-free handbags and its philanthropic mission of raising awareness to animal welfare. I wish the best for Jill Milan for many, many years to come.

Until next time,

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