Is it just me, or is Chloe experiencing something of a mini renaissance these past few weeks? They just reissued the Chloe Paddington in celebration of their 60th anniversary, and their recent runway show boasted some of the best bags of Paris Fashion Week. Celebs suddenly seem to be digging their Chloe bags out of the back of their closets.

I bet I’m not the only one among us who had her introduction to high-end designer bags with the Chloe Paddington. Back in late 2005, I was a college student who had just found the PurseForum, and something about the Paddington (Was it the lock? The handle attachments? Who knows.) sucked me straight in, just as it had sucked in so many others before me.

Here’s Victoria Secret Angel and generalized supermodel Candice Swanepoel, trying to dodge a few overly friendly advances from fans and paparazzos while carrying a beige Chloe Sally Bag at the airport in LA. Nice try, Candice – you can do your best to keep a low profile by wearing designer shades and a beanie, but you’re still a gorgeous super model who people can spot from a mile away.

Under the guidance of Clare Waight Keller, Chloe has been pretty much impeccable when it comes to retro-modern femininity. Looking for something in peach, blush or ivory, but want it without the saccharine sweetness that often accompanies those shades? Go directly to Chloe, do not pass go, do not collect $200. For Fall 2013, though, Waight Keller had something slightly tougher in mind, but her vision was no less-spot on.

I hate fake leather. I know that animal rights activists have a very good reason for preferring it, and I respect people like Stella McCartney, who have pledged not to ever use real leather in their work. Taking an ethical stand instead of a financial one is something that few people have the nerve to do. I won’t be buying those bags, and I’ll question their astronomical price points, but it doesn’t bother me in the least that they exist.

I have some good news and some bad news. First, the good news: the Chloe Lucy Bag, which everyone adored when we included it in our Chloe runway coverage and our Fall 2012 runway wrap-up, has finally become available online, and its first landing spot is at Matches Fashion. Yay! The first sighting of a major runway lust object available for purchase always gives me heart palpitations.

Ever since Clare Waight Keller took the top creative spot at Chloe, I’ve been an unrepentant fangirl. Waight Keller has required an incredibly short turnaround time to set the brand back on a chic path that many had felt it lost after the exit of Phoebe Philo several years ago, and the collections, from ready-to-wear to accessories to shoes, have all improved by leaps and bounds in just over a year.

I don’t like to dance on anyone’s grave (sorry, Hannah MacGibbon), but Clare Waight Keller’s second collection as the creative director of Chloe hits it out of the park even harder than the first one did, particularly when it comes to handbags. Looking at the feminine, luxurious, modern leather pieces that Keller’s team conceived for Chloe Fall 2012 makes it nearly impossible to remember the eye-searing catastrophe of MacGibbon’s last collection for the French house only a year ago.

I was talking to my friend Tanya the other day about her next handbag purchase, and the subject of patent vs. regular leather came up. Patent’s having a huge moment right now, with everyone from 3.1 Phillip Lim to Chloe remaking some of their most successful designs in the stiff, glossy material, but the look isn’t for everyone or every design, no matter how hard brands try to make us think it is.

Images via Vogue.com

Psst. You guys. It’s safe to come look at these pictures from Chloe Spring 2012 because finally, at long last, Chloe has turned the handbag corner! The company had to give Hannah MacGibbon the heave-ho after last season’s disaster and bring in Clare Waight Keller from Pringle of Scotland to fix things up, but based on Chloe’s Paris Fashion Week show, it was an incredibly shrewd decision on the part of the brand’s parent company, Richemont.

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