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EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Ellis on Her Growing Brand and New Slim Aarons Snapshot Satchels

Fresh off accessorizing Jennifer Lopez and Dua Lipa for the Met Gala, the handbag designer is launching a summer capsule and expanding her brand reach.

EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Ellis on Her Growing Brand and New Slim Aarons Snapshot Satchels

One of the summer capsule bags from Tyler Ellis featuring Slim Aarons photos.

Fresh off the Met Gala red carpet, where she accessorized Jennifer Lopez, Dua Lipa, Anna Wintour and many more, Hollywood’s favorite handbag designer Tyler Ellis is launching a summer capsule and expanding her brand reach with her own factory and a new showroom.

Collaborating with the estate of iconic American photographer Slim Aarons, she has reworked three of his images: “Sunbathing by the Sea in Florida” (1955), “Beach at St. Tropez” (1977) and “Hotel du Cap Eden Roc” (1976) on snapshot satchels in her signature Marilyn and Stella silhouettes.

“Either you haven’t been and you want to go, or it reminds you of your happy place,” she said of the images by Aarons, who was famous for capturing glamorous photos of socialites, jet-setters and celebrities.

The bags, in patent leather or recyclable beach-ready PVC, launch May 30 exclusively on her website, and are limited to 25 pieces per style. Prices range from $2,500 to $5,000, with 10 percent of each sale donated to The Fashion Trust U.S.

The West Coast nonprofit nurturing young design talent is a counterpoint to East Coast’s Council of Fashion Designers of America that once upon a time was led by the designer’s late father Perry Ellis, the giant of American sportswear whose brand was also built on a casual, cheerful elegance.

EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Ellis on Her Growing Brand and New Slim Aarons Snapshot Satchels

Tyler Ellis x Slim Aarons Marilyn bag.

The bags were handcrafted by artisans of Le Sieci in Tuscany, not far from where Ellis and her family recently moved from Los Angeles.

“We had been working with this factory since 2014, and as time went on and independent factories were disappearing and no longer doing high-quality work.…I started having this fear that a larger company, one of the big houses, could come in and purchase the factory,” said Ellis, whose mother is TV writer-producer Barbara Gallagher.

After the factory family’s patriarch passed away, the opportunity arose for Ellis to purchase the whole operation. Fast forward to 2024 and she, her husband Benjamin Shriner and their 2-and-a-half-year-old child have relocated from Brentwood to Florence to oversee their new investment.

“It’s great because now we’re vertically integrated,” she said of the brand she founded in 2011 as direct-to-consumer and which now is in growth mode with a new sales team in New York City, and pickup from Neiman Marcus.

EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Ellis on Her Growing Brand and New Slim Aarons Snapshot Satchels

Jennifer Lopez at the 2024 Met Gala carrying a Tyler Ellis Eloise clutch.

Ellis was 18 months old when her father died of AIDS in 1986, at age 46. Raised away from Seventh Avenue in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of L.A., she studied film and TV, but found her passion was fashion. Determined to succeed without relying on her family name, she first called her handbag line Tyler Alexandra. “I felt that I had daunting shoes to fill but have worked hard to get to where I am and it’s my name — I feel ready to own it,” she told WWD in 2016, when she changed the name to Tyler Ellis.

The brand is mostly comprised of evening styles, including the Lee envelope pouch and the Perry clutch named after her dad. And it has grown largely because of red carpet placements.

“Starting maybe three or four years ago, we have been on every red carpet, which has been amazing,” she said, adding that Tyler Ellis has between 10 and 17 carries for each major event, even if there aren’t always photos since celebs tend to pass off their bags to handlers while posing.

“I want to do a book of all the publicists holding the bags,” she laughed.

EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Ellis on Her Growing Brand and New Slim Aarons Snapshot Satchels

Dua Lipa at the 2024 Met Gala carrying the Tyler Ellis Lily clutch.

While the placements don’t always directly drive sales because the label’s price point is so high, they do drive “brand legitimization,” she said. “I have this lovely book of incredible celebrities, they can carry whomever they want to carry, and they continue to choose my brand. So that helps a woman who is newly introduced to it that we can say we have Oprah, we have J.Lo, we have Beyoncé.”

Owning the factory will allow her to be more nimble when it comes to creating custom designs for celebs during a tight time frame, she said. Besides, she’s getting used to life in Italy.

“In the beginning, moving to Florence was so different coming from L.A., which is so huge. I thought it would only be temporary for as long as it takes to get the factory going and then we’d be back or in Milan or something else. But I fell in love with the small town vibe. We walk everywhere…the cost of living is insane, we eat like kings, and we’re in Europe, which is so central if I need to go for work to London or Paris.”

EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Ellis on Her Growing Brand and New Slim Aarons Snapshot Satchels

Tyler Ellis

While she never knew her father, he continues to influence her. “He was a perfectionist, which I am…and I also want fashion to be fun and happy in the way that he and all his models frolicked down the runway and smiled. I want people to smile. That’s what this collaboration is about.”

She’s always been a fan of Slim Aarons, and created an early brand campaign using inspiration from one of his Palm Springs photos. When she discovered the photo archive was owned by Getty Images, which she uses for work to source red carpet photos, she asked for an introduction to the estate and the collaboration was hatched.

EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Ellis on Her Growing Brand and New Slim Aarons Snapshot Satchels

The Tyler Ellis x Slim Aarons Stella bag.

“I chose three images that I love but also felt would resonate on a bag. I decided the Stella handle bag worked and the patent leather pops the images so beautifully. And then the other style is super beachy, so you can put sunblock in it, which seemed appropriate because so much of his work is focused on the beach.”

Even though she’s now living in Italy, there will always be a California sensibility to the brand — from the red carpet and the beach.

“L.A. is very relaxed and casual, so I’ll take the crystal bag and wear it with jeans and a T-shirt, or any bag that’s on the red carpet, I’ll wear with jeans and a T-shirt,” she said. “I like that mix. “