After two seasons in a row of furry, futuristic, ultra-covetable wildness from the brand, Fendi’s Fall 2014 Handbags are a bit of a step back toward simplification, if only a small one. There’s a bit less fur, fewer textural embellishments and not as many colors residing on a single purse, but there’s still the signature Fendi look that Karl Lagerfeld has taken care to develop over the past few years.

You can say a lot of things about Fendi creative director Karl Lagerfeld, but you can’t claim the man doesn’t have a sense of humor about himself. Fendi, a brand that knows as well as any other when it has a hit on its hand and how to maximize its success, opened its Fall 2014 runway show (full coverage of the show’s handbags is coming your way at noon) with one of the brand’s popular Bag Bugs in the visage of Lagerfeld himself, held aloft daintily by Cara Delevingne so that one and all could snap clear pictures of it for Instagram and beyond.

During her tenure at the brand, creative director Frida Giannini has taken enormous strides in streamlining and simplifying what it is to be the Gucci woman. Tom Ford’s hard-nosed excess was fun, but Giannini has long offered up a softer experience that is more viscerally luxurious, and she’s taken that even another step further with Gucci’s Fall 2014 handbags. The collection features shapes both familiar and new, all made minimalist in soft leather and muted tones.

After middling results with the Mulberry Del Rey Bag, Mulberry has chosen a more fashion-centric name for its next celebrity collaboration. Supermodel of the moment Cara Delevingne has signed on to design (“design”) and rep the Mulberry Cara Delevingne Bag, which comes in three sizes, all of which are convertible between a tote and backpack.

The first run of bags will be available in quilted leather, two shades of camo-print calf hair and one limited edition quilted version that features lion-head studs within the bag’s quilts.

There is something of a fine line between “art” and “art project,” and during the Burberry Fall 2014 runway show, the brand’s hand-painted handbags didn’t often stay on the right side of it. In a post-show interview with Vogue, brand head Christopher Bailey spoke of having studio staffers paint the bags, and the results generally looked like the product of hands whose primary job is not, in fact, painting things.

After two blockbuster handbag hits with the PS1 and PS11 bags, Proenza Schouler’s accessories success has been in something of a holding pattern. That happens to many brands after an initial fit of success; learning how to turn those first instincts into stable, replicable growth requires a little bit of alchemy, at the very least. Based on the Proenza Schouler Fall 2014 handbags, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez may have hit their stride.

Another New York Fashion Week has come and gone, and as we prepare for the Fall 2014 collections cross the Atlantic to roll through Europe for the next three weeks, it’s important to take stock of what happened in Manhattan and what it tells us about where our accessories dollars are headed in the second half of the year.

First, designers are putting their biggest emphasis ever on exotics and fur, so you should either get ready to spend $20,000 on a handbag or get ready to buy a $2,000 consolation prize.

Sometimes fashion speaks to its customers on a metaphorical level, but for 3.1 Phillip Lim Fall 2014, the handbags literally have something to say. The handheld, paper bag-like purses are debossed with fashion-fave phrases like “totes” and “amaze,” as well as clutches that boast of the “cash” therein. (And let’s face it, “cash” is a favorite phrase among the luxury crowd as well, if maybe not a colloquialism.)

If you like your handbags a little less wordy, the collection also featured many a chain-handled, highly structured shoulder bag, very much in the vein of the Chanel Boy Bag, but slightly more minimal.

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