Is it just me, or did Paris Haute Couture Week catch anyone else a little off guard? Because we’re an accessories site and haute couture and handbags don’t mix on any sort of grand scale, these shows mostly serve as a harbinger for what’s to come in the fast-approaching Fashion Weeks and the flurry of accessories that they bring, but a few of the collections are always interesting enough for us to break stride and take a look. This season, Armani Privé Spring 2011 is one of those collections.

Giorgio Armani’s couture is often worn on the world’s biggest red carpets, but the space-age fabrics and construction of this collection call to mind only one celebrity: Lady Gaga. Armani has provided many of Gaga’s more spectacular outfits for events and awards shows, including her fantastic 2010 Grammy dress, and the singer’s personal style has clearly made an impression on the legendary designer. Many of the lines retain Armani’s traditional modernist flair, but the futuristic materials and embellishments found therein can be credited to the aesthetic that Gaga has ushered into favor. It’s to Armani’s credit that he has chosen to take the zeitgeist by the horns and make some interesting clothing in the process. (more…)

When I heard the Outnet was having a huge Balmain sale I knew many would be excited. But me, not so much. I appreciate Balmain for what they bring to the fashion world, but I simply do not get it. It is more the design aesthetic and price combination that does not compute. Sure, military chic has made a massive comeback and Balmain takes that to the highest level, but they also have sky-rocket prices with their mostly trendy pieces.

Above are some of the Balmain items that not only do not make sense to me price wise, even at 75-80% off, but also the design itself seems silly, like it is mocking us. Really, that distressed jersey shirt has large holes in all the wrong areas.

If you are all about Balmain, shop the sale at the Outnet now!

VBH handbags can be elusive little creatures. The brand has an extremely limited online presence, and when you combine that with limited in-store distribution in the US, it’s easy to become envious of the numerous starlets who get to sport the brand’s famous envelope clutches on the red carpet. Why should only starlets have unfettered access to such great evening bags?

The brand’s Spring 2011 collection goes far beyond those familiar clutches, however. The slouchy python and structure crocodile pieces are the star of this line by far, and although there are a few missteps (hello, gold bedazzled bucket bag), the beautiful and straightforward use of exotics makes up for the rather meager sins to be found. And are those python iPad cases that I spy? It sure looks like it. (more…)

Alexander McQueen Spring 2011 may not be directly handbag related (only one purse was presented during this show, a Skull Clutch covered with weathered gold leaves), but the brand’s first post-McQueen collection is certainly of note. Sarah Burton, McQueen’s new creative director, did an extraordinary job of putting a new spin on the company’s legacy, despite having what Style.com called the most “thankless task in fashion.” Make sure you watch all the way through to see the show’s truly dazzling finale dresses. For close-ups of the shoes, check out or sister site TalkShoes tomorrow morning!

Even though Stella McCartney doesn’t use animal products in her bags, that hasn’t stopped her line from becoming popular among celebrities and other notable fashion-influencers. McCartney is perhaps most well-known in handbag crowds for the punky, chain-detailed Falabella Bag of Fall 2009, but it looks as though the designer has gone in an entirely different direction for the handbags of Stella McCartney Spring 2011.

With weathered “leather” and woven insets reminiscent of whicker furniture (and I mean that in the best way possible), McCartney took her handbag line in a decidedly traditional, 70s-inflected direction that called for lots of structure and intricate detail. What struck me the most, though, was the smooth, luxurious-looking faux leather – every time I look at these photos, I have to remind myself that these bags aren’t made of the materials that we’re all used to carrying. In that context, they’re fine specimens indeed. (more…)

The bags of Burbery Fall 2010 are kind of a shame when you consider the brilliant collection from whence they came. Not only are they plain and boring, but they weren’t even close to being the most interesting leather pieces in the show – that honor went to the many heavily-detailed leather jackets and vests that graced the runway.

For all the intricate leather work that clearly went into the jackets, the handbags were shown none of the same attention by Christopher Bailey & Co. In fact, they were arguably the lowest point of a line I really, truly loved in almost every way. I don’t mind purses being used as bright, poppy accents to a larger look, but designers should at least take the time to make the bags special as well. The latticed python seen on a few pieces was an interesting-enough technique, but the simplistic shapes don’t do anything to help the cause. Full pictures, after the jump. (more…)

If Gucci‘s accessories designers have anything to say about it, the trend toward handbag minimalism is over, starting with Gucci Spring 2011.

Considering last season’s retro-leaning accessories collection and the current trend climate, I expected another line of referential, staid handbags from the Italian brand during its recent presentation in Milan; I was dead wrong. Not only were the clothes bright, bold and more than a tad tropical, but the bags were sexy statement-makers in exotics, metallics and intricate woven leather. Naturally, my favorites were the big carry-all satchels like the one at left. (more…)

Another brilliant bag moment from photoblogger Tommy Ton, covering New York Fashion Week for Style.com. He caught an Alexander Wang attendee carrying a Celine Classic Box Bag, and you get a gold star if you can tell me who she is. Have a great weekend!

Since we’ve been noting a clear move from monogrammed cute to sleek and chic in Tory’s shoes and bags, it’s no surprise that the Spring 2011 presentation was nothing short of gorgeous. It also confirmed that the 70s really are going to be in style next spring – I know, I know, Marc Jacobs confirmed it too but Tory Burch has the power of mass appeal. Plus, her 70s-inspired pieces were paired with other items that gave them a decidedly modern twist. For example, bell-bottom pants were paired with things like a fine-knit sweater that reminded of Peruvian striped styles or just a simple long-sleeved tee. The shoes were pretty high, yes – giant-heeled espadrilles or high wedges – but there were easy sandals as well. (more…)

Marc Jacobs is almost inarguably the king of New York Fashion Week, and his Marc Jacobs Collection show is always the most sought-after invitation of them all (at least stateside). This year, the show livestreamed online to thousands of fans while the editors and buyers looked on in Manhattan, and what a splendid show Marc created to kick off the digital age at his company – if you like a good 70s reference in your spring wardrobe, that is.

Jacobs will also join us in the 21st century by launching online retail at MarcJacobs.com today, but you’ll have to wait until next year if you want to scoop up the collection’s fabulously wearable printed dresses and (slightly less fabulous) shiny pantsuits in a palette of plum, pumpkin and raspberry. While you wait patiently, we have photos of the best looks to entice you, after the jump. Oh, and the bags! How could I forget the bags? Jacobs took a refreshing turn back to normalcy this season, and the richly hued day clutch seems to be his bag of choice for spring.
From his runway to God’s ears, as they say.
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