Compared to fall, spring’s textures can be a bit…down-market. We love raffia and canvas as much as anyone else, but naturally, we love snakeskin and leather even more. So what’s the secret to incorporating successfully what might feel like a heavy material into your warm-weather wardrobe? Why, a mini crossbody bag, of course. (That’s the answer to a lot of spring and summer bag problems, trust me.) The only other problem with exotics in particular, of course, is that it’s a look that tends to cost an arm and a leg; fortunately, it doesn’t have to.

We’ve taken the liberty of assembling a quick-reference list of ten exotic (or “exotic,” in some instances) bags that will give you a luxe look all the way through to fall without weighing you down or looking season-inappropriate. We found as many genuine snake pieces as we could and filled in the rest of the list with the most expensive-looking embossed leather we could find for the price. Check out our picks below!

It likely won’t shock anyone to hear that VBH’s Fall 2013 handbags are pristine and luxurious; that’s sort of what the brand is know for, after all. The line of satchels, totes and clutches, which are available for pre-order via Moda Operandi through March 21, are in keeping with the clean, strong lines and elegant finish for which the brand has become well known. If you’ve been a long-time fan of the Brera Satchel, there are some more shapes in this collection that I think you should take a look at immediately.

My favorite of the bunch is the angular Trevi Tote, which comes in both vitello leather and glossy crocodile. This isn’t the kind of design that becomes a highly recognizable It Bag; instead, it’s the kind that makes you crazy with both jealous and curiosity when you see someone carrying it from afar. What could it be? Who makes that? Beyond just the Trevi, this collection is chock full of exactly that type of bag. Check out our favorites below or shop the full selection via Moda Operandi.

If having too much of a good thing is truly possible, then I think I’ve had a little too much python lately. Because of strong markets for ulta-premium accessories, exotics are having something of a golden era at the moment, and although that’s yielded a lot of utterly lust-worthy handbags, its also yielded a lot of stuff that all sort of looks the same. Expensive, but not inventive. All it took to cure my snakeskin ennui, though, was one look at the Dax Gabler Python Shoulder Tote. A friend sent me a link to this bag yesterday, and talk about an afternoon pick-me-up. (more…)

If you’ve been paying attention over the past few years, then you already know that J.Crew has ambitions beyond its mid-priced mall-brand origins. CEO Mickey Drexler and Creative Director Jenna Lyons have helped exponentially elevate the brand’s fashion status, and while J.Crew remains a good source for accessibly priced sweaters and cute statement jewelry, the store would also like to sell you handbags that cost four figures.

The J.Crew Edie Alligator Bag is the brand’s first private label foray into the world of luxury handbags. J.Crew has seen a lot of success with its mid-priced leather bags, and considering the brand’s desired upward mobility, remaking one of its biggest hits in a premium material makes a certain sort of sense. With that in mind, $1,500 for an alligator bag is actually not too terrible – a bag of this size, in this material, by a brand with a more high-end reputation would likely cost several thousand dollars more.

Still, four figures from J.Crew is a bit of a tough pill to swallow, although it seems that the brand knows that. This bag is only available at J.Crew’s Madison Avenue flagship, which means it’s more of a press piece than a true retail venture, and to that end, it seems like a successful undertaking. A python version of the bag, which retails for $795, is available via J.Crew’s website as well as at the Madison Ave store. It wouldn’t surprise me to see J.Crew launch more widespread high-end accessories lines in the future, though – would you be receptive, or is there a ceiling to how much you’re willing to pay for anything from J.Crew?

You can shop the leather Edie bags, which start at $238.

Christmas parties are tricky, almost universally. Except for one or two per year where you get to see your actual friends who don’t really care what you wear because they remember that time you thought adult knee socks were a good idea, the opportunity for judgment is rife. Not only is it important to strike an appropriate, chic note at your own office Christmas party, but at that of your significant other, where no one else knows you? Super important. (Not to mention any in-law situations that may come up during the holidays.)

For any of those situations, I don’t see how anyone could find fault with the Kara Ross Priscilla Clutch, which comes in at slightly less than $1,000, despite being made largely of black lizard. The combination of a beautifully sequined silver flap closure and light gold hardware means that it can be worn with almost any dark-colored evening ensemble, and in the winter, how many evening ensembles aren’t dark-colored? I could see this clutch paired with winter whites too, so all your bases are covered.

Not only that, but the clutch looks quite elegant. Sequins can sometimes go down-market in large quantities, but the flap on this bag has them arranged in such a way that they look luxurious and full of texture. Indeed, the entire design is full of subtle visual interest, the combination of which makes the bag well worth its price tag, especially at this time of year. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $975.

Our friends from Heritage Auctions are at it again. Have a Holy Grail Handbag in your mind? An exotic? Some Hermes? Exotic Hermes, maybe? Or exotic…anything? Those are the bags that dreams are made of, naturally, and Heritage Auctions is in the business of making those dreams come true. In the Heritage Auctions Handbag & Luxury Accessories December Auction on December 4 in Dallas, the selection of dream bags up for grabs is truly mind-blowing. We’ve been passing the auction catalog around the PurseBlog offices to ooh and ahh since it arrived – even to jaded handbag pros, it’s an incredible assortment of pieces.

We’ve teamed up with Heritage to bring you a preview of the best of the best from the huge auction listing. Sun-kissed Chanel Classic Flap? We’ve got it. Diamond-encrusted crocodile Hermes Birkin? That too. The auction features lots of regular leather bags from the most sought-after brands in the world as well, but it’s the exotics and limited edition pieces that are the biggest pleasure to be hold. Below, check out our favorites, or peruse the full selection via Heritage Auctions.


Hermes Birkin 35cm in Violet Porosus Crocodile, starting bid: $40,000 via Heritage Auctions


Hermes Mini Kelly in Limited Edition Sterling Silver, starting bid: $10,000 via Heritage Auctions


Hermes 25cm Birkin in Ombre Lizard, starting bid: $15,000 via Heritage Auctions


Hermes 32cm Sellier Kelly in Poudre Alligator, starting bid: $7,500 via Heritage Auctions


Chanel Matte Crocodile Jumbo Classic Flap Bag, starting bid: $8,000 via Heritage Auctions


Hermes 35cm Birkin in Black Porosus Crocodile with Diamond-Encrusted 18k White Gold Hardware, starting bid: $100,000 via Heritage Auctions


Hermes 35cm Birkin in Electric Blue Clemence Leather, starting bid: $8,000 via Heritage Auctions


Hermes 40cm HAC Birkin in Matte Amethyst Prosus Crocodile, starting bid: $50,000 via Heritage Auctions


Yves Saint Laurent Special Order Crocodile Sac Uptown in Shiny Red Crocodile, starting bid: $2,000 via Heritage Auctions

I had a close encounter of the VBH kind over the weekend. I was shopping with some friends at the Woodbury Common outlets north of New York City (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, by the way), and at the Last Call Neiman Marcus store, I found the little corner of the handbag section where they were hiding the stuff you’d actually want to buy: Jason Wu, Marni, and most excitingly of all, VBH. There was only one VBH bag, but even in that less-than-glamourous setting, it was the clear winner of the whole group. I somehow managed to stop myself from buying it, but obviously I’m still thinking about it quite fondly several days later.

Thankfully, our friends at Moda Operandi have conspired to distract me from my reverse buyer’s remorse, and naturally, the only answer is more VBH. From now through October 28, you can preview (and most importantly, pre-order) VBH Spring 2013, which includes lots of exotics and beautiful colors in classic VBH shapes like the Brera satchel and Manila envelope clutch. Check out the full assortment below or shop the pre-sale via Moda Operandi. (more…)

I’ve been anticipating the arrival of the Victoria Beckham Soft Victoria Leather and Watersnake Tote for almost five full months now. The bag first caught my eye when Beckham released the Fall 2012 lookbook way back in the spring, and it struck me then that perhaps the brand had found its handbag stride. It still feels that way.

The object of my affection is now available for further inspection, and I’m excited to say that I love it just as much now as I did then. Not only that, but the price is significantly less than I expected it to be for a Victoria Beckham bag, where full leather bags of a similar size often retail about $3,000. Care to take a guess before you take the jump? (more…)

And in order to own the above alligator version, I’d probably have to do that literally – rent payments would have to go toward a bag mortgage of some kind. (Feel free to make up your own joke about how New York City apartments are tiny anyway and insert it here.) The Reed Krakoff Alligator Uniform XL Satchel might be worth it, though, particularly if I can get an air conditioner installed in there. It’s certainly more stylish and luxurious than my current walk-up building, if perhaps less functional. Unfortunately, this bag rings up at a whopping $34,000. Plus tax, without air conditioning. (more…)

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. (more…)

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