Full disclosure folks, this bag is not cheap, like, at all. I’ll get into the specifics on the price later, but now that I’ve been up front, I feel as though I can talk about this beautiful bag without the guilt. After getting over the immense sticker shock that the price tag gave me, I actually found myself in awe over the Valextra Alligator Isis Clutch.

“Cult” is a word that can be easily abused; just because a brand has a small, relatively enthusiastic group of fans does not a cult favorite make. That fans have to be so dedicated, so ardent in their love for a designer’s work that they create a high-entry point that’s almost prohibitive for newcomers. Those are the kind of fans that Olympia Le-Tan‘s handmade book clutches have attracted.

Ladies (and gentleman too, but this only applies to the most fabulous among your ranks), I’m here to talk to you today about an issue that’s plaguing the closets of all too many women: clutch neglect. I’m not talking about formal evening bags; I think that a lot of us have a sparkly little something-or-other ferreted away, just in case. I’m talking about an actual clutch, one that can be carried to a dinner with friends or weekend afternoon cocktails with your girls (does anyone actually do that?) or, you know, wherever you feel like it, so long as you don’t have a baby in tow and you don’t have to haul groceries in the course of the outing.

It’s an interesting time to be in the fashion industry. Spheres of influence are shifting, new markets are opening up, it’s a whole new world out there for brands with the foresight to see opportunities emerging. If you’re a street style fan, you’ve probably noticed a growing number of Russian women who are gaining an increasingly large portion of the spotlight, and that’s no coincidence – newly wealthy Russians, stretching their legs after decades of political and economic isolation, are buying up everything from the priciest of Manhattan real estate to entire Chanel couture collections.

When I was looking for bags to feature in one of last week’s wedding guides, I came across the stunning Kotur Barnes Ombre Woven Clutch. I was immediately smitten – the way that the ultra bright colors mingle in the middle is so unique and so memorable that I couldn’t get the bag out of my head. It seems as though I wasn’t the only one who had that reaction; since that post went up, I’ve had a few friends mention the Kotur clutch in particular as a standout.

Clutches are such a conundrum. Not only are they the smallest, least often-used bags of all the major categories, but they’re some of the most expensive purses on the market because of the amount of embellishment and detail that goes into some of them. It’s hard to believe that what is essentially a frame-structured silk pouch can sometimes cost as much as an all-leather everyday bag from the same brand, but that’s exactly the case with the Valentino Silk Georgette Rosette Clutch, which rings up at $2495.

Over the past few years, clutches molded out of clear lucite or acrylic have enjoyed wide popularity, at least on runways. It’s a trend that nearly every brand has touched on at one point or another, but because not everyone jumped on the bandwagon at once, a clear evening bag still feels fresh and modern. Don’t let that fool you, though; see-through clutches have been around for decades and are often the best thing that a vintage store’s handbag selection has to offer.

Translating a winning design aesthetic from shoes to handbags can be tricky. Just ask Christian Louboutin, who has the footwear world by the tail but is still trying to figure out his perfect handbag formula. Brian Atwood, another shoe designer that inspires fainting spells among the heel-inclined, is also taking his first serious steps into the handbag arena, starting with a collection of clutches that launched yesterday on Gilt.com.

You know how they say time flies when you’re having fun? I am certain that this is both cliche and true, as I have no idea how it is nearly the middle of February. For the fashion world, this means Fashion Week (aka month) is here, and for the rest of the world it means Valentine’s day is upon us. As much as I love getting gifts, I look forward to putting together a Valentine’s outfit more than anything.

Stella McCartney Ava Faux Python Clutch, $1995 via Net-a-Porter

Like any proud lover of luxury goods, I spend my fair share of time trying to explain to people that we’re not all slaves to a famous name when it comes to paying for accessories. Sure, some of the reason that prices are the way they are is that many of the brands we love have built of a reputation and history for themselves as employing the kind of aesthetic and artistic talent to craft the finest leather goods on the planet.

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