Alexander McQueen, magnificent designer and creative role model to thousands of fashion lovers, has died of an apparent suicide. He was 40 years old.

It would be disingenuous, at this juncture, to speculate about what McQueen’s legacy will be or what impact his all-too-soon death will have, but if there is one thing I can say for sure, it’s that the world still needs Alexander McQueen.

To finish out Paris Couture Week, I thought it might be nice to have something that’s not at all intellectual or challenging. If as many of you guys go out on Thursday nights as the people in my group of friends, then Friday morning is not the time to be looking at and making sense of Difficult Fashion. No no, Friday is the time for obvious things.

To (very loosely) paraphrase the great Raymond Carver, Jean Paul Gaultier is what we talk about when we talk about couture. In a week of shows that have left me at times both dazzled and underwhelmed (Valentino, I’m looking at you), Gaultier showed up just in time to remind us all exactly why we’re here: because only a handful of people on the face of the planet are capable of so masterfully creating clothes that make us dream.

I’m…I’m underwhelmed. And a little sad, maybe. But mostly confused. Is this what Valentino Haute Couture is supposed to look like? Are they serious? I think we’ve been tricked. Fooled. Bamboozled.

It kind of reminds me of what would happen if Balenciaga and Valentino had a baby (the term ‘Valenciaga’ has already been coined elsewhere, I can’t take credit for it), and a few of the tight minidresses are reminiscent of Herve Leger, particularly with the neon inserts that were also in the previous Leger spring collection.

First, I’d like to say that I’m so incredibly happy that Chanel Haute Couture chose to do something more interesting for their show this season than they did for their show last season. Although, if you find silver and white boring, this may be another loser for you.

It was a winner for me, however. For the first time in his lengthy career, Karl Lagerfeld created a collection that completely eschewed black and navy – in fact, it eschewed color of any sort, save for a few traditional Chanel suits with a culotte twist (I just dry heaved a little bit there), which were rendered in various pastels.

Of the few shows that we’ve seen so far Givenchy Haute Couture felt the most like couture to me. As the line between a normal runway show and a couture show continues to blur and fewer brands present the highest of high fashion as time goes on and the customer base dwindles, I still thoroughly enjoy seeing a full-on, beads-and-feathers-and-funny-hats shindig.

Good news, everyone – it’s cool to be an uptight, rich plutocrat again! Adjust accordingly.

Really, where would those ideals be more appropriately on display than at the Christian Dior Haute Couture show this week in Paris? John Galliano styled his Cruella-meets-English-nobility show with riding crops and streaks of Bride of Frankenstein grey hair, and although I didn’t adore this collection as much as I did the lingerie-as-outerwear show from six months ago, I couldn’t help but smile.

The trend toward chain link totes seems like an obvious choice this season. Although totes are somewhat on the practical side of the handbag spectrum, the addition of chains to ordinary totes makes them into something special. These totes featured are far from your generic 9-to-5 envelope tote and are just as adept at toting around loads of stuff during your busy weekdays.

Great googly moogly, people. I sit here every day and talk about $2500 handbags like they’re the most normal thing in the world, so most sane people would consider me somewhat desensitized to luxury prices. And they’d probably be right – I sort of consider Balenciaga bags to be a steal, since most of their motorcycle styles are still priced under $1500.

Handbag Designer List

Welcome to the new year and new decade. Thanks to all of our loyal readers and members, 2009 was a great year for PurseBlog and PurseForum. For 2010 we have many more big things planned and truly look forward to sharing with you over the next twelve months!

We want to ask you: What handbag designers do you want to see us cover more in 2010?

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