A handbag worthy of your inner DIY goddess



Get out your soldering irons, ladies:* it’s time for a truly alarming retail handbag hack project, courtesy of the goddess Aphrodite.

In honor of the Nov. 5 opening of the Exchange Economies exhibit at Colorado College’s IDEA Space, we interviewed participating artist Norene Leddy about the fascinating techy things she does to handbags, shoes and clubwear. The interview appears in this week’s Indy, but what we didn’t include were the instructions on how to make your own version of one of her wicked masterpieces of fashion and function. For that, you’ll have to read on.

When she first launched her series of socially-conscious fashion sculptures, Leddy took direct inspiration from worship customs among the prostitutes of ancient Cyprus. For example, she especially liked the kestos imas garment worn by their patron goddess. Aphrodite’s version was magic, but Leddy’s might as well be: it’s a vinyl bustier with hidden pockets for money and keys, neon-pink trim, and — coolest of all — a panel of pretty twinkly lights on the back that can be surreptitiously controlled by the wearer. If she suspects that her conversation partner is dangerous (or an undercover cop), she can activate the lights, and everyone else knows to stay away.

It’s the same way with the rest of the pieces produced by the Aphrodite Project: they’re sparkly and sexy as all get-out, but they conceal safety technology that could well save the lives of the at-risk women they’re designed for. Just as cool as the kestos imas are the platform shoes with 911-call capability and the handbags with a built-in mugger alarm. While your average 9-to-5 lady might not need either of the former, who wouldn’t want a purse with a built-in hand-activated siren?

The Aphrodite Project occasionally hosts DIY alarm-purse workshops, but that won’t be a feature of the IDEA Space exhibit. Instead, we offer you an instructional video and diagrams from Make magazine.

You’ll not only need to get your hands on a soldering iron, but also a 9-volt battery, some 22-gauge wire, and a 102-decibel Piezo Siren alarm from Radio Shack. If the shattering wail of the siren doesn’t scare those late-night creepers, then your tech savvy sure will.

On the other hand — if, like me, you’re jazzed about the concept but didn’t take Electronics 101 in high school, you can always test-drive Leddy’s version at the exhibit, which runs Tuesday-Saturday, 12:30-7:00 p.m. through Dec. 15. Personally, I can’t wait to try on the silver rhinestone LED-screen platform sandals.


* Male purse fans and man-bag trendsetters are welcome as well, especially if you like to cross-dress on your nights out.

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