When it seems things can't get any worse in the world, I'm heartened by the impact that local design businesses are having here and abroad.

Alicia Paulson, the designer behind Posie: Rosy Little Things, knows a lot about impact. Just ask her about the garbage truck that plowed into her five years ago as she walked across the street.

'The driver said the sun was in his eyes,' says Paulson, a newlywed who had just moved to Portland when the accident occurred. Laid up for months, she began doing embroidery to pass the time and take her mind off her pain.

Something clicked.

'I became obsessed with it and would start the moment I woke up,' the former book editor says. 'My husband would have to take the needle out of my hand when I fell asleep at night.'

Gifts for friends, such as embroidered pillowcases and sachets, led to custom orders and a refined vision.

Paulson now sells a line of handmade, vintage-inspired handbags and photo albums from her Southeast Portland studio and online Ñ for now, that is. Her albums will be featured in the April issue of Country Living magazine, and her feminine and affordable handbag collection is too exquisite to stay local for long.

In a move that makes jewelry parties passŽ, Paulson also offers Posie Handbag Parties, where guests can design their own bag from available swatches, which Paulson then makes and delivers to the lucky recipients.

Contact her at 503-231-7674.

Perfumers cause a stir

Not since the birth of baby Jesus have so many taken a journey on behalf of frankincense and myrrh.

Chris Tsefalas and his wife, Christina, owners of the Perfume House on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, are the proud purveyors of Dia Amouage, the newly released version of Amouage, which industry experts say is one of the world's 10 great fragrances.

'Dozens of people have come to Portland so far to visit our shop and try the fragrance,' Chris Tsefalas says.

Created in Oman, Dia Amouage differs from Amouage in that it has rose essence.

'The rose is sacred in that part of the world,' Tsefalas explains. 'If someone gives you a rose after a long friendship, it means that they would give their life for you.'

A daytime fragrance, the 1.7-ounce bottle of Dia Amouage sells for $170 Ñ significantly less than the value of a great friendship.

Paris, New York É Scappoose?

Thanks to local boot maker Wesco, Oregon is now among the triumvirate of fashion locales. The heavy-duty work boots made by the 85-year-old family-owned Scappoose firm strode the fall 2003 runways of both Jean Paul Gaultier and Michael Kors.

Gaultier, the outrageous French designer behind Madonna's 'Blonde Ambition' tour, selected the 18-inch Jobmaster boot for his Paris show. Wesco introduced the boot, which laces up almost to the knee, in 1938.

The New York-based Kors felt that the 11-inch Boss boot better complemented his all-American cool. This is the boot that Jackie O would have donned had she run off with a biker.

Wesco reps say that the fashion phone is still ringing. Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs recently called to order a few pairs of the stylishly rugged boots.

Treats without tricks

Like any girl worth her salt, Marnie Massie's favorite way to indulge herself is with sugary sweets and a warm bath. The Portland resident combined her two loves when she created Treat, a line of yummy bath 'sweets' that nurture both dry skin and a frazzled mind.

Fresh-baked Treats out of Massie's kitchen include the Cocoa Truffle, which includes shea butter and vitamin E, and the deliciously life-altering Brown Sugar Bath Crumbs. Cleverly packaged in cake and chocolate boxes, the products would make a great gift for a friend Ñ if one could give them up.

Launched just last year, Treat has already been featured in Lucky magazine and is offered in 15 stores nationwide, including the veddy-veddy Henri Bendel in New York City.

The line is available closer to home at Tumbleweed on Northeast Alberta Street and Pleiades Salon on Southeast Ankeny Street.

Contact Jill Spitznass at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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