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…)

Summer is the season of travel and it looks like luxury house Salvatore Ferragamo knows how to design for its elite clientele. Ferragamo Creative Director Massimiliano Giornetti designed a variety of exotic cases for Pre-Fall 2012 with the fashionable jet setter in mind. He said his inspiration came from Italian royals traveling throughout Europe. If you always dreamed of being a real-life princess and it never happened (join the club), you can still feel like one by carrying the Salvatore Ferragamo Exotic Beauty Case which are fit for royalty. (more…)

Even though, in any particular season, Nancy Gonzalez’s bags range from clean and simple to incredibly intricate, one binding theme always remains: exotic skins, most notably crocodile, produced by the brand’s farms in Gonzalez’s native Colombia. The bags are also produced in Colombia, and the centralization of the brand’s operations allows Gonzalez to price her bags more reasonably than other brands tend to price similar materials. (If a $3000 handbag can ever be referred to as “reasonable,” that is, which is a debate unto itself. It’s relative, ok?)

In that tradition, Nancy Gonzalez Resort 2013 goes for a little bit of everything at once, including kitschy fruit charms, candy-colored ostrich, polka dots and austere black-and-white. The bags are all finished in Gonzalez’s signature exotics, of course, and the collection can be pre-ordered via Moda Operandi through tomorrow, July 25. Check out the collection after the jump! (more…)

I’m going to level with you guys: it’s a slow news day. We’ve reached that mid point of July, which means that it feels as though we’re as far into summer as humanly possible, but still with no light at the end of the heat-and-humidity tunnel. As much as I love the season, my sandals and maxi dresses are starting to feel a bit boring. Fall collections are starting to trickle in to stores, but as far as new things on the horizon, the September start of New York Fashion Week seems years away. It’ll get here before we know it, of course, but until then…I’m not sure what. The fashion Internet is a vast wasteland.

During these periods, what do I go looking for? Eye candy, specifically of the exotic, wildly expensive variety. Proenza Schouler isn’t the first brand that I think of when looking for those kinds of things, but I noticed recently that the brand has stepped up its exotic game something fierce in the past year. Proenza also opened its Madison Avenue boutique on Friday, the brand’s first stand-alone store, so an exploration of the brand’s most distinctive bags seems appropriate, right? Check out our favorites after the jump or shop the brand’s full selection via ProenzaSchouler.com. (more…)

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