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The handbag diva - Vicky Sleeper
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The handbag diva - Vicky SleeperShe's sold handbags to Helen Mirren and the Queen, but nothing could tear Vicky Sleeper away from her beloved Portobello Road.

Vicky Sleeper started collecting handbags, she says, "when I didn't have any more room in my pockets, socks or bra!" It all started by accident, but since then Vicky has had some incredible finds: "artisanal bags made with soul and craftsmanship, gorgeous bags made using different disciplines - including textiles, metal, wood, rubber and of course, skin."

So when you're hunting for a vintage bag, what should you look for? "Choose a bag that really speaks to you - and feels special. It can be altered to make it truly yours," says Vicky. "Personally, when I'm shopping for bags I just look in the mirror and know straight away if it works or not." As for investment pieces, Hermes bags hold their value well, she explains, as you can generally sell them on for at least the price you paid.

During her career, Vicky has consulted to the great accessories labels and sold to all sorts of customers - Helen Mirren, Teri Hatcher "and I even sold a bag to the Queen," she adds, "but I like being at Portobello, it keeps my ear to the ground." When she's not working, she loves going to see movies at The Electric, mooching around the Antiques Market and just hanging out in Westbourne Grove.

The area has changed quite a lot in her time. "It's much more upmarket and trendy, and you can no longer smoke in the back row of The Electric watching a double bill for 35p," she says, "but the music of Bob Marley and The Clash still wafts across the wind."

Vicky has now launched her own collection of handbags. "Having sold vintage bags to design teams for many years, I wanted to offer something that I haven't seen on the market yet," she explains. Her collection has been inspired by the Metis Spirit of the Aboriginal people of Canada. "I want my designs to be practical, precious and versatile enough to carry my bare essentials," she says. "And of course, I've enjoyed quietly test driving my own handbags..."

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