Usually, I can count on Italy to give me at least one collection of handbags per season that hits me right in the heart. The Italians know their leather, and their Fashion Week is stocked with brands as well known for their bags as they are for anything. This time around, though, Milan Fashion Week Spring 2014 felt at times more like it was revisiting its greatest hits than charting new territory. I saw some new versions of existing bags that I loved, but I never got that new thing that flooded my brain with serotonin.

That’s not to say that there weren’t some accessories highlights – in fact, they were abundant. The new versions of the Fendi 2Jours were excellent, and the Prada face-painted bags are sure to become collectors’ items. Beyond that, there were lovely exotics in light colors galore, from Ferragamo to Versace. Even if the season wasn’t fully satisfying, there was plenty to love. Check out our picks for the best of the season below.

[Images via Vogue.com]

Every season, the fashion season frets over trends. Every season, the fashion industry tries to find new inspiration, new materials, new shapes, new colors. Every season, we try to reinvent the wheel, while every season, Dolce & Gabbana trots right alongside us, doing its own parallel thing and selling clothes and accessories hand over fist. It feels like it’s been a decade since Dolce gave us a collection that wasn’t overtly and aggressively inspired by Domenico Dolce’s homeland of Sicily (actual time: 2.5 years), and the brand may very well never give us another non-Sicilian collection again, for all I care. Oh, and the bags from Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2014 aren’t bad, either.

It didn’t really click for me until I one day saw a woman walking down the street in New York, wearing a crisp white shirt, simple pumps and a gorgeous, midi-length full skirt printed with a Sicilian seaside vista. These clothes, for all their kitsch when laid on top of each other, actually look incredible when split up into someone’s actual wardrobe. And not only that, but because they’re not beholden to obvious trends or dependent on model-proportioned bodies, they can look incredible on almost anyone.

Dolce’s bags usually aren’t its first concern, but this season did bring us a new staple from the brand by way of a trim, tailored executive tote in a variety of leathers. It’s nice to see something from the brand beyond the Miss Sicily and Miss Dolce and the usual ultra-thematic runway pieces, and I’m sure Dolce fans will gobble it up. Check out the full collection below, straight from the runway.

[Images via Vogue.com]

Sometimes feminism and the fashion industry find themselves at odds, but Miuccia Prada has been dutifully doing her part for years to demonstrate that the two can peacefully coexist, and, what’s more, fashion can actually act in service of female equality and women’s rights. For Prada Spring 2014, she chose to do that in a somewhat literal way – she commissioned pieces from six artists, all of which depict women’s faces, and recreated them in her show space and on many of the items of clothing themselves, including the bags.

The painted bags are totally striking and easily my favorite pieces from the collection, but if you prefer something slightly less literal, the spring is full of structured, heavily compartmentalized satchels that harken back to the 1960s. Perhaps that’s a pointed choice; after all, the 60s were the era that women’s liberation really caught fire, at least in the US, and it feels pretty subversive to see models wearing modern street art and athletic-inspired footwear carry bags in shapes that my grandmother would recognize. I only wish that Prada’s show space had allowed photographers a more straight-on view of the bags themselves. Check out what we can see of the collection below.

[Photos via Vogue.com]

For the past two seasons in a row, Fendi handbags have been easily my favorites of Fashion Week, both Milan and beyond. Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi have combined to create handbags that meticulously walk the line between luxury and innovation, a line of which almost all other designers choose to fall to one side or the other. As in previous seasons, the bags of Fendi Spring 2014 are very well balanced. (more…)

If you don’t like fringe, it’s not time to panic quite yet. Generally, Gucci runways display a small, hyper-focused fraction of the bags that are forthcoming from the brand for any particular season’s collection, and this season, the aforementioned focus happened to include quite a bit of fringe. Long fringe. Creative director Frida Giannini has a tendency to add bohemian touches to the brand’s signature sexy, luxurious look, and that seems to be the avenue she’s decided to take with these bags.

The collection itself has numerous sportif notes, but those don’t come through on the bags, which have a much more 70s vibe to match the collection’s exquisite silk caftans. In the context of the Gucci world, the bags make sense, but I suspect fringe this long may be difficult to wear. Will you spring for one of the runway bags, or will you wait for a version without so much fringe (which is almost surely forthcoming)?

[Images via Vogue.com]

London Fashion Week is by far the shortest of the four major global fashion parades, but in a lot of ways, it’s my favorite. The British have developed a very distinct spot in the fashion world for themselves and their bold, young designers, and that means that looking at the collections that surface from LFW can at times feel like peering into the future. London doesn’t produce quite as many commercially viable handbag collections as New York, Paris or Milan, but you get some bang for your metaphorical buck by way of interesting, forward-thinking design from some of the industry’s brightest emerging stars. Below, we’ve picked some of the bags that we thought were standouts from the long weekend in London.

[All Images via Vogue.com]

Marc Jacobs is pretty good at subverting expectations, but he might have outdone himself with the Marc Jacobs Spring 2014 show. He lead everyone into a cavernous (and sweltering) beach scene, and then instead of showing the deconstructed swimwear the scene seemed to imply, we got tapestry, tassels and high-neck lace dresses. The only thing the runway was missing was a Victorian-style, full-coverage swimsuit. Maybe next year. (more…)

New York Fashion Week is so long, so packed with shows, that we felt it responsible to split our list of The Best Spring 2014 Runway Bags into two parts. Last week, Megs covered the best accessories that the first few days of shows had to offer, and today, I’m here to round out that list with my picks from the last few days. That includes shows from such American handbag luminaries as Proenza Schouler and Reed Krakoff, so you’re definitely going to want to check out what’s happening below.

[All Images via Vogue.com]

We’re already visited one elaborate, fashionable, ladylike garden party this New York Fashion Week, and that was between Kate Spade’s expertly trimmed hedges. Today, we’re off to see what’s going on in Tory Burch’s backyard, and it’s pretty gorgeous. Withe Tory Burch Spring 2014, the designer has found her stride, or at least a stride; the collection is neatly clustered around a clear theme, and the variations that it takes as the collection progresses are nothing short of lovely.

It’s with not-so-mild surprise that I admit that Burch managed to take something that can be accurately described as a “floral fanny pack” and make it something that a woman might actually want to wear, but she did just that. Vogue‘s Hamish Bowles described the collection as “tightly controlled,” and that’s probably the best phrase to use when talking about how Burch approached her use of florals and garden motifs. Where Kate Spade went quirky, Burch elegant. Both approaches are interesting in their own ways, but the clothes and bags in this collection look a lot more expensive than they likely will be, which is always a nice thing for consumers. Although maybe the prices are just going up.

Shop Tory Burch’s current collection via Bloomingdale’s or check out the images of her newest line below.

[Images via Vogue.com]

One of the unsung particularities of New York Fashion Week is the vast spectrum of celebrities in brings out over its eight-day run. There aren’t a lot of parties that could draw both Paris Hilton and Barbara Walters, but at Fashion Week, there’s literally a spot for any celeb who’s interested in cashing a check and sitting upright in the front row for a few minutes. In the interest of journalism (or, you know, something similar!), we felt it our duty to catalog the handbags that these celebs toted into and out of the tents over the past week.

For reasons that I cannot totally explain, there was a ton of Chanel and less Hermes than one might expect. Also popular: a bag from whatever designer’s show you’re attending (or, in the case of models, that you just walked in). Below, the bags of everyone from the fashion-famous to the famous-famous, plus a bunch of people somewhere in between.

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