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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.