BY SUZY BUCKLEY
Jason Salstein and Danielle Corona at The Angler's Resort in Miami Beach
Danielle Corona showed up for work at Barneys New York a year ago and was given the old “we have good news and bad news” talk. Unfortunately, they’d have to let her go from her Studio Services position, working with celebrities, costume designers, stylists and personal shoppers. The good news: Hunting Season—the line of clutches made of exotic skins she created with her business partner, Jason Salstein—had been picked up by the buyers at Barneys. And as a rule, vendors can’t hold jobs at the store.
It was the big break they had been waiting forever since they’d conceived the collection in 2004 while brainstorming at Corona’s kitchen table. “Jason and I have always been on the same inspirational page,” says the 27-year-old Miami native, who studied at what’s now the Miami International University of Art & Design, then later landed an internship in Valentino’s accessories department in Rome. “We’d been watching a lot of Gosford Park, and have always loved Erté, Louis Icart paintings and the story behind the board game Clue. There’s just something cool about darkness, mystery and murder in such an elegant setting.”
They settled on the name, Hunting Season, while shopping in New York for antique buttons for their signature tufted handbags. “All the designs seemed to fit into this category of things you’d find in an English manor,” explains 26-year-old Salstein, also from Miami, who studied at NYU, interned at J Records then launched his own, now-defunct shoe company. “Even today, when people think of wealth, luxury or grandeur, they think of a house with a library, leather tufted couches, huge chandeliers, sconces, damask wallpaper, huge paintings in gilded frames, Venetian mirrors and boudoirs with perfume diffusers. Hunting Season brings to mind fox hunts, Sherlock Holmes and the lifestyle that stems from that world.”
Soon after Hunting Season began selling at Barneys, their two factories in Florence, Italy, and New York were churning out tufted satchels and clutches and oversize totes made of python, alligator, ostrich, lizard and pony hair (also known as cavallino—the industry’s word for unshaved leather) for more marquee stores, such as Edon Manor in New York, Holt Renfrew in Canada, Joyce in Hong Kong and Boutique 1 in Dubai. In Florida, the line is sold at Capretto Shoes in South Miami and Marissa Collections in Naples. Prices range from a $995 leather City Bag to a $28,000 extra-large Excalibur made of alligator.
While scouting leathers for the line at the Lineapelle fair in Bologna, Italy, the pair landed a side gig consulting for (former vice president of Valentino) Bruce Hoeksema’s VBH accessories line. And the first time they stopped by Barneys—with bated breath—to see how Hunting Season looked displayed on the floor, the bags weren’t even there: “All of them were gone already, sold to personal clients,” Corona says. Patricia Field even snatched up two of their evening bags to use in Sex and the City. This past summer, Corona was named alongside Chloë Sevigny, Milla Jovovich and Rachel Roy as one of men.style.com’s most fashionable women in fashion for 2009.
photograph by ben shaul