By all accounts, the Dolce & Gabbana Fall/Winter 2010 runway show was very moving – it began with a video dedicated to the technical skill that goes in to creating the brand’s clothing and ended with an enormous herd of models taking the runway in all manner of black blazers. I can’t think of more fitting bookends to a fashion show in these uncertain times – celebrating craftsmanship and classics seems to be just the note to hit right now.

But what we’re here to talk about is handbags, and those struck a similar chord. Two basic shapes made an appearance: first, the Miss Sicily shape to which the brand has strapped their wagon for the past few season. It came in all manner of textures – leather, python, knit, lace, fur. Those materials were often combined into textural puzzles, but the feeling was mostly a little too similar to last season’s offerings to get me excited. What caught me by surprise, however, was the second shape – tiny coin purse/iPhone case hybrids worn across the body on long chains. They seemed supremely functional and current, while still being exquisitely detailed and luxurious. Modern functionality is something I wish I’d seen a bit more of during recent collections. (more…)

The more I see of the Fall/Winter 2010 shows, particularly the ones from Milan, the more I become certain that the fashion industry glitterati have clandestine meetings after the season has been presented to decide what the trends for the next season will be, just so everyone else is on the same page. That, or it’s secretly just one supergenius (or supercomputer?) behind every major collection, and that’s why everything from Gucci to Fendi to Ferragamo this season has been so cohesive – not just within each collection, but across much of what has been shown at Fashion Week as a whole.

So, this is what we know: the 60s and 70s are being brought back, this time in a conservative and subdued way to match the mood of the culture. Classic shapes, particularly in accessories, are as classic as they’ve ever been. Brown is officially a thing, as is suede. The look of sueded croc is also gaining favor, after being embraced for the past few season by the bag designers at YSL.

Ferragamo’s collection hit most of the high points of fall trendspotting, and the materials were lush and beautiful. A few of the shapes were too plain for me, but high points like asymmetrical croc clutches with tortoise shell closures made me forget all about them. That’s probably a good metaphor for how fall is shaping up, in fact – the key will be finding the bags that take tradition to the next level. (more…)

If the brands that I normally make fun of continue to turn out impressive bag collections, what am I going to crack jokes about? With the second lovely presentation by Fendi in as many seasons, it looks like before I know it, the only time I’m going to get to be nasty and snarky is when Versace puts forth a new abomination against handbag design. That’s bad for me as a writer (bad reviews write themselves), but it’s a net gain for handbag lovers everywhere.

Although we saw a logo bag or two in the Fendi Fall/Winter 2010 collection, the vast majority of the collection was comprised of clean, classic shapes, rendered in a subdued, retro palette of browns and orangey-yellows. The styling reminded me of Hitchcock classic Marnie, all mid-60s subdued tailoring and midcentury color combinations. The results were subdued and pretty, with impressive details that weren’t to be missed. My favorite among them was that the brand had embossed the models’ initials on the hang tags of several of the brown leather bags – I wonder if that’s a service that Fendi will provide to customers when these bags are sold at retail. (more…)

Let’s not mince words about the handbags that went down the Bottega Veneta runway last week in Milan: I cannot recall ever seeing a runway collection that included so many different kinds of bags, all of them utterly beautiful. I’m not even that enormous of a Bottega fan and I was still awed by the details that went into all of them, from oversized crocodile hobos to the tiniest embellished knot clutches. It was without question a pleasure to watch every look that came down the catwalk, and the bags were the icing on the drool-worthy cake.

I mentioned this tangentially in my post about this season’s Gucci bags, but the purses that grace the runways provide a level of luxury that can’t be matched. They’re usually the creme de la creme, made from the best materials and with the most attention to detail that a brand has to offer. Bottega’s outstanding collection, which was carried by nearly half of the models in the show, is perhaps among the best examples of a true runway bag collection that I’ve ever seen. The bags were expertly dyed candy-colored crocodile and snakeskin, mixed with browns and graphites and complemented by a few examples of the brand’s famed intrecciato weave in the best leathers available. They were so engaging, in fact, that I found myself distracted from the show’s gorgeous dresses – no small feat. (more…)

Allow me to make one of my personal biases clear: I look forward to seeing the bags on the Gucci runway more than almost any other bag-including show at fashion week. The brand’s notorious sense for modern glamor and sexuality often comes through best in their runway bags, and seeing them is almost always a pleasure.

I wasn’t as excited by this season’s offerings as I was for last season’s technology-influenced collection, but they were still as luxurious and detailed as you could reasonably ask. Much of the collection, which was heavy on ostrich, was also sporting a slightly modified interlocking G logo that I’ve never seen before – could it be a vintage revival, as is popular with the brand, or something completely new? I’m not sure which, but whatever it is, I think its slightly curvier lines work well for the direction that the brand is going. (more…)

This past Sunday, I attended the Moncler Grenoble FW 2010 presentation, and being a bag person, I was immediately drawn towards the use of fanny packs. Let’s just say it was rather extensive. Models stood motionless on four levels of scaffolding; spotlights shone on different groups of them to the tune of classical and opera music. I daresay it was all very dramatic and lovely, since I’m a personal fan of Moncler, but I couldn’t help but wonder about the fanny packs. They were rather large and round, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the models had little heaters tucked inside them. Not that they would need heaters; if there’s anything Moncler is known for, it’s the warmth that their signature shiny puffers provide. (more…)

I’ll be blunt: Marc Jacobs is New York Fashion Week. It’s the show that everyone wants to go to and no one can stop talking about, and it may have produced more activity from the people I follow on Twitter than the Super Bowl. In a way, I suppose, it’s sort of the same thing, just for a vastly different group of people.

Marc had another right-on-time start this year, causing latecomer and heavyweight André Leon Talley to stand (the horror) to watch the show. And what a show it was – the reaction so far has been practically rhapsodic – fashion editors everywhere are panting and drooling like mere commoners! And why wouldn’t they be? It’s Marc Freakin’ Jacobs. (more…)

In my mind, there are two types of designers: those that make us think about fashion and its relationship to philosophy and art, and those that make fashion accessible and wearable to the average fashion fan. Each pursuit has its own challenges, but it’s without question that Diane Von Furstenberg has the second type of clothing on lock.

Menswear was a dominant theme in DVF’s Fall/Winter 2010 collection, but it was styled in such a way that it would be totally accessible and wearable outside of an office setting. Blazers were layered over floaty chiffon, a girly rose-covered bolero was layered over a suit, and it all looked functional and fun to wear. The textural layering continued with chunky knits over sparkly patterned dresses, and Von Furstenberg threw in a few of her signature wraps for good measure. So what does this collection tell us? (more…)

Does anyone remember a little film called The Craft, a tale of four goth-y, snarky teen witches and the classmates that they hated? You have to think back almost 15 years, to a time when I was merely a tween exploring my burgeoning love of black clothing that I have come to embrace now, at this later juncture in my life. I didn’t have any social problems in school, but I loved the idea of being disaffected and misunderstood. It seemed like all the coolest people were, at least in the movies, and it also seemed like something that was easy enough to strive for. Obviously, I loved The Craft.

Alexander Wang says that his Fall/Winter 2010 collection was inspired by Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe, but I think he might have secretly been a fan of a certain coven of mid-90s conjurers as well. The only things this collection missed were suspenders and Fairuza Balk. (more…)

Do you feel that special tingle in the air? Smell that scent – the combined perfumes of a thousand magazine editors and well-heeled fashionistas, waiting impatiently in an enclosed space? Sense the Earth itself spinning ever-so-slightly, almost imperceptibly out of its natural orbit? Only one thing can be to blame: the advent of New York Fashion Week.

While my compatriots up north trudge through the snow and wait on line for the crashers in front of them to get turned away, I’ll be lounging in my climate-controlled apartment, eating pita chips and drinking white wine that came from a screw-top bottle (I’m not ashamed). I’ll see the same collections that they do, with a wait of about an hour before the images make it to the internet, and I’ll probably have a better view (make no mistake, the “compatriots” to which I refer are not front-row people). So won’t you join me? I’ve got a few good reasons that you really should. (more…)

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