Among the things that handbag lovers tell ourselves in order to make exorbitant accessories prices seem reasonable, “The crafstmanship is exquisite!” is one of the most popular. It’s rare that consumers get much of a peek inside that process, though. Late last year, we took you behind the scenes into the making of Gucci’s iconic bamboo trim, and now Gucci has thrown open its workshop doors once again to reveal a few of its secrets, this time with the Gucci Nouveau Fringe Bag. (more…)

Not long ago, we took a closer look at why, exactly, designer handbags cost as much as they do. Materials and labor play a part, of course, but a lot of money goes into convincing consumers that the ultra-pricey pieces have the aura of glamour and luxury that makes sky-high price tags seem appropriate. There’s no more direct way to create that image than advertising; brands can perfectly orchestrate a scene around a purse or pair of shoes to give the a product just the right high-end context and then present that image to consumers without the middle-man of a magazine stylist or a department store window dresser. Case in point: Louis Vuitton’s new ad campaign with David Bowie and Arizona Muse. (more…)

Leading up to National Handbag Day on October 10, we want to share our love for handbags with some of the best editorial, photos, and stories, starting today. I’ve told the story of how Vlad and I started PurseBlog.com so many times to so many people, but I’m not sure that we’ve ever shared it with all of you before. Some of you have been here since the beginning and some are newer readers, so in honor of National Handbag Day (which is a holiday because we say it is – we registered it and everything), I want to share the story of how PurseBlog.com and PurseForum.com came into existence.

My love for handbags started in grade school. I remember going into middle school and beginning to recognize people’s stylistic differences much more, and I was drawn to handbags. While some of my friends had their own handbags, it was their mothers who carried the chicest accessories, and I began to lust after them. Why was it bags and not anything else? I guess I always loved the idea of having a place to store my personal items. I was one of the kids in school who loved having my own cubby hole or a desk that opened up so I could put all of my random special items inside.

One of the first brands I learned about was Coach, and I decided I had to have the Coach Demi Pouch. The campaign to have it be my next gift began, and after what felt like years of begging, my mom got it for me in 7th grade. From there, I started to buy every fashion magazine I could in order to browse through the pages and tear out all the bag ads.

As I hit high school, my obsession with handbags only got stronger. I went to a private school, and our handbag or backpack was the only way we could stand out from everyone else in our uniforms. When I entered college on a swimming scholarship, my love for handbags only solidified more. It was my first time dealing with winter weather, having grown up in Florida and suddenly being in college at Ohio State, so between my struggle with the cold and having swim practice every morning before class and every afternoon afterward, the only way I could dress up my swimming parka and swimmer hair was a chic bag. I carried a Prada messenger bag while wearing one of the most atrocious (but incredibly warm) parkas and always had my hair in a messy, chlorine-filled bun.

I met Vlad in college. He was also on the swim team, and while he didn’t share my passion for handbags, he had a passion for all things computer-related. After a couple months of dating, Vlad approached me to tell me that he heard from some of his web development friends that blogs were going to be the next big thing. This was in 2004, when the word blog was rarely uttered. Vlad was always ahead of the curve and he decided to register a bunch of domain names that had the world blog in it. In one of the sweetest gestures, Vlad registered PurseBlog.com and told me “I know how much you love handbags, so I got you PurseBlog.com.”

I had no idea what to do with a website, all I knew is that I loved handbags. Vlad designed the site and told me I could share my love of different handbags with people around the world. I didn’t come from a fashion background, in fact, I was pre-med in college before I decided to stick with psychology. What I did know is why I liked certain bags, and I was ready to learn about how to tell these stories to others.

I wrote my first blog post in January of 2005. I had no idea what to write about or how to share it, but Vlad walked me through it. He taught me the ropes of running a website, though to this day all the beauty that you see when it comes to the PurseBlog design is all Vlad. I thought a few people would maybe find our site and read it; little did I know a few months in, we would be picked up by Yahoo as the blog feed of the day. After that day, I realized there was long-term potential with our website, and we began thinking about this as more of a business than a silly side project.

About 6 months after we started PurseBlog.com, we began PurseForum.com, another idea from Vlad. There were a few other fashion forums online, but we wanted one that talked about shopping and focused on the consumer. Fast forward to 2013, we now have a full-time team of 7, 4 part time, and a website that is read by thousands of people everyday. I never imagined this would be my story, but it is both my life and the story of PurseBlog.com.

At the time of this writing, we don’t know if Marc Jacobs’ show today for Louis Vuitton will be the last in his 16-year tenure as the creative leader of the incredibly powerful French brand. What we do know, however, is what Jacobs has done for Vuitton so far, which is nothing short of turning the brand into a household name with one of the most iconic logos in fashion history. He’s interpreted and re-interpreted Vuitton’s signature details and bags time and again for a modern audience, and recently, CR Fashion Book went behind the scenes to witness the making of the latest Louis Vuitton Speedy Bag.

CR’s “Anatomy of a Bag” series, which has featured the likes of Hermes and Dior in the past, and now it’s on to another French fashion giant. The Speedy in question is a dazzling blue mini version in embossed python, which retails for $6,500 at Louis Vuitton stores. According to writer Christopher Bartley, this Speedy takes over 400 steps to manufacture and comprises 21 individual pieces of python, leather and hardware. Below, check out our favorite behind-the-scenes shots from the CR shoot, or head on over to the mag’s website and read the full story. Also, you can shop Louis Vuitton via the brand’s official site.

A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that something interesting was going on over CR Fashion Book’s Tumblr-fueled website: the fashion mag had taken it upon itself to look behind the seams of luxury handbags, and its latest subject is the Loewe Amazona Bag. If you ever found yourself thinking that this classic piece’s simplicity might be deceptive, it turns out that you were right. Give yourself a pat on the back.

In the copy accompanying the undone bag’s photos, CR Fashion Book notes that 39 distinct pieces of leather go into forming this bag, and because it’s unlined, the leather must be perfect on both sides. All in all, it takes over six man hours of labor to assemble an Amazona, from cutting the pieces out of 11 yards of leather to adding the 21 elements of gold hardware at the end of the process. Bag prices can get ridiculous, but features like these remind us why sometimes its all worth it. Our favorite pics of the assembly process are below, but to see CR Fashion Book’s entire Loewe feature, head over to the mag’s website. On the other hand, if you’re feeling inspired to add one of these bags to your wardrobe, you can shop Loewe via Neiman Marcus.

CR Fashion Books looks at the making of the Loewe Amazona Bag (1) CR Fashion Books looks at the making of the Loewe Amazona Bag (2) CR Fashion Books looks at the making of the Loewe Amazona Bag (3)

In case you’re not yet familiar with CR Fashion Book, let me explain – the “CR” stands for “Carine Roitfeld,” the incredibly influential and generally brilliant former editor of French Vogue. When she left her former post, she consulted for a little while before forming a new indie magazine, which is pretty great. Also great: the magazine’s look behind the scenes at the construction of the iconic Hermes Constance Bag, which promises to be the first in a series of features on the making of iconic accessories by CR editor Shiona Turini and photographer Ulysse Fréchelin. We’re pretty excited – the pictures from this first outing are beautiful.

CR has taken the unconventional step of using Tumblr to power its official website, which happens to be a great format for big, beautiful, easily shared photos. We’ve shared some more of our favorites below, but you can check out the full editorial feature, plus information from Turini on the history of the bag, where it got its name and the process that goes into making the design a reality, via CRFashionBook.com. For example, did you know that it takes 14 hours of labor by a single artisan to create one of these bags?

I always love photos like these – lifting the veil on exactly how the world’s most beautiful objects are made often unveils a process that’s beautiful in and of itself, especially with a product as painstakingly constructed as an Hermes bag. Since this is the first in a series, which other accessories do you hope make it in front of the CR lens?

The Making of an Hermes Constance Bag by CR Fashion Book (2) The Making of an Hermes Constance Bag by CR Fashion Book (3)

As consumers, finding the right wardrobe balance of classic pieces and trendy accents can be tough. So many trends will look obviously outdated after a season or two that even if you love them, it can be hard to justify spending the big bucks on something that will look old almost immediately. That’s why Fall 2012 is so major – so many of the big runway trends are things that a well-stocked wardrobe should have anyway, all the way from knee-high boots to a good black bag.

Classics becoming “trendy” means that it’s a perfect time to stock up – trust me, you’ll never have so many options for knee-high riding boots as you will this fall – you can actually feel good about shopping because so much of what’s in stores will be wearable for a long time. We teamed up with our friends at Bloomingdale’s to scout out some of the best Classic Trends for the season. Check out our picks after the jump! (more…)

One of our favorite parts of being members of the PurseBlog team is working with designers and companies I both love and respect. We partnered up with with Beth Kanfer from SaksPOV to go behind the scenes and work on a fun interview and photoshoot surrounding the new Loeffler Randall bags. Chatting with both the Saks team and Jessie Randall of Loeffler Randall about the new line of bags was quite the treat, the bags are simply gorgeous.

Similar to her shoes, the bags are both chic and demure, with high quality design and materials inside and out. This is a line you won’t want to miss and we are happy to bring you the inside scoop!

Check out Loeffler Randall’s new handbag collection at Saks.com!

As consumers, we see just one side of the design process: the finished product. Even in the democratized world of the Internet, the creativity and hard work that go into making fashion inspiration come alive are still relatively shrouded in secrecy. Where do ideas come from? How do designers decide if a trend is right for their work? Which pieces does a designer look back on most fondly? What types of things do designers enjoy designing? It can be easy to forget that there’s human ingenuity behind every bag and pair of shoes.

To shed a little bit of light on all of those questions, our friends at Bloomingdale’s hooked us up with shoe designer Jerome C. Rousseau, who was kind enough to tell us about his design process, how he feels about trends and a shoe’s unique power of seduction. Check out our Q&A after the jump, and make sure to shop Jerome C. Rousseau shoes via Bloomingdales.com. (more…)

First released in 1975, it’s been decades since the Hermes Passe-Guide Bag graced the shelves of an Hermes retail store, but the heavily hardwared bag made a comeback for Spring 2012 and will be produced again for fall. In very limited quantities, that is; the design starts at $11,700 for regular leather, and good luck finding one to purchase. What, you thought that Hermes would launch a new bag by making it widely available to all interested parties?

After the jump, though, we have a video from Hermes that sheds some light on why the number of Passe-Guides on the market might be so low: to put it simply, they seem far more difficult and time-consuming than average to assemble. Most of us have seen photos of how Birkins and Kellys are made, which is without a doubt a detailed process, but the Passe-Guide takes things to the next level, particularly in its ultra-structured, hardware-adorned, immaculately curved gusset. See how it’s done after the jump. (more…)

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