In and of itself, news of police busting up a counterfeit handbag ring is not exactly breaking news. Enormous luxury brands put pressure on authorities in Europe and America to stanch the flow of fake bags into their markets, usually from Asian manufacturers and distributors unaffiliated with the mainstream luxury industry in any way. Police bust the rings fairly regularly, proudly displaying crates of confiscated goods on the news, only to have more sprout up in the defunct rings’ places. If you’re interested in high-end handbags, you probably know this narrative well by now.

When I heard about a counterfeit Hermes ring recently raided in France, which was first reported in Women’s Wear Daily last week, I expected the story to be much the same. What I didn’t expect was that Hermes employees would also be implicated. So far two have been dismissed, although it’s not clear if they were also among the dozen arrested, and the company thinks that several more employees might be involved. Care to guess what they were doing? (more…)

It’s not often that our Real Housewives coverage and our handbag coverage intersect, but sometimes when a reality TV star finds herself in financial straits, the stuff in her closet is all she has left with which to barter. (Side note: Why do people in financial distress find themselves so attracted to television? Bravo doesn’t pay that well.)

That’s apparently what happened to Taylor Armstrong of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fame, who recently settled a lawsuit that had been brought against her and her late husband Russell over allegations that they defrauded MyMedicalRecords.com for over $1.5 million while they claimed to seek funding for the company’s growth. Because Russell hanged himself last year and the truth finally came out about the couple’s financial situation (they were flat broke, they had few liquid assets and they rented their massive home), Taylor had to turn over her personal property to work toward fulfilling the settlement. That included some of her handbag collection, but as it turns out, the Birkins were all as fake as her lips. (more…)

I love a fun video and everyone on the PurseBlog team is constantly sending videos back and forth to keep ourselves entertained. Some are informative and some are simply to add laughter to our day. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear and found myself singing along to every word of this adorable Call Me Maybe cover that Rebecca Minkoff, Leandra of The Man Repeller, and model Hilary Rhoda shot as they got ready for the CFDA awards. There are cameos by many on the Rebecca Minkoff team as well as her husband. But the star of the video hands down is Rebecca’s adorable son Luca, what a cutie!

This song is easy to sing along to and Rebecca brought her usual spunk to the cover (and so did The Man Repeller with her sweet dance moves). On top of it all, there are lots of close ups of Rebecca Minkoff accessories and clothing. It’s pretty much a match made in fun fashion heaven. [Shop Rebecca Minkoff]

Last night marked the 2012 Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards. To be invited to join the CFDA is an honor, but to be chosen as a nominee and then win is a major feat. That’s why we’d like to send huge congratulations to Reed Krakoff for winning Accessory Designer of the Year at last night’s ceremony. The CFDA awarded him with this honor because they felt he has made the most outstanding contribution to the market and has influenced the direction of accessory design with his Spring and Fall 2012 Collections.

I picked some of my favorite designs from the nominees yesterday and shared them on our exclusive Net-A-Porter.com page, including items from Reed Krakoff’s collection. [Pictured above is the Orange Crocodile Mini Atlantique, $11,000 via Reed Krakoff]

Shop Reed Krakoff bags online through Reed Krakoff and via Net-A-Porter!

As some of you have probably read, there’s a set of photos going around the Internet that purport to show Clint Eastwood’s 19-year-old daughter Francesca Eastwood chewing on, sawing in half and then setting ablaze a “$100,000 Hermes Crocodile Birkin” (scare quotes intentional, you’ll see why in a second), all in the name of art. (“Art.”) The photos appear on the website of photographer Tyler Shields, Eastwood’s boyfriend, and their creation will reportedly be documented in an episode of her E! reality show, Mrs. Eastwood and Company, set to run next week.

The Internet has been clutching its collective pearls since TMZ first posted about this story a few days ago, with people expressing outrage about a number of issues they have with the photos and their artistic goals. (Among the complaints I’ve read: torching something that costs that much money is both aggressively stupid and wasteful, anyone would spend $100,000 on a handbag in the first place is obscene, and Francesca is bringing shame to her father’s good name and disrespecting an iconic piece of design in the process.) It seems to us, though, that everyone’s ignoring a lot of fairly clear factual inaccuracies in this whole dumb stunt that render the debate moot – no one burned a crocodile Birkin at all, despite what an aspiring reality star, her publicity-hungry boyfriend and the network that brought us four distinct Kardashian-based shows want you to believe. We’ve got the skinny, plus the rest of the photos, after the jump. (more…)

According to a recent study by the Luxury Institute, Seattle-based department store Nordstrom is the leading retailer among wealthy American shoppers. The industry research firm surveyed shoppers with household income of $150,000 per year or more for the 2012 Luxury Consumer Experience Index, Women’s Wear Daily reports, and Nordstrom came out on top in a survey that included questions about satisfaction with store personnel, in-store experience and customer satisfaction. For many of you, these findings probably don’t come as much of a surprise.

Nordstrom has long been a bastion of excellent customer service; even comedian Kathy Griffin has a routine about her mom’s fondness for returning things to the department store, which has a reputation for taking back almost anything, under almost any circumstances. Percentages of survey respondents who would both shop there again and recommend the store to family or friends were both in the mid-90s, which is literally just about as good as a store can get. So what makes Nordstrom so likable? And if you’re not a Nordstrom fanatic, where do you prefer to shop? (more…)

Not long ago, a friend who works for a major fashion brand asked me, out of the blue, which handbags designers I thought sold the best at department stores. For some reason, it was a question I had never quite thought about in those terms before; so many of the most sought-after accessories labels don’t retail through third parties that it’s hard to gauge where the rest of the pack ranks without solid facts and figures in front of me. Thinking about handbags while disregarding Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes (all of whom control their own retail outlets, even within department stores) seemed entirely foreign.

My best guesses at the time were Celine and Proenza Schouler. Those are the brands who get the most slavish response from fashion people, and I know from personal experience how hard it can be to put your hands on the Celine bag of your choice. As it turns out, I was right – Women’s Wear Daily reports that Celine and Proenza are still a huge highlight in an accessories market that has grown by double digits in the last year. Who else is popular? Some of the names might surprise you. (more…)

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but this morning, that’s exactly what we have to be. This is the kind of news you want to know as soon as possible, though, so that you have enough time to adjust, make your plans and complete any purchases that you were contemplating. Yep, we’re talking about a Louis Vuitton price increase. After the jump, we have all the info and a few suggestions of what you should scoop up before everything gets more expensive. (more…)

Anyone who’s opened a high-end fashion magazine in the recent past knows, those types of publications are focused on aesthetics to the near-complete exclusion of practical concerns. Style.com may be known as a website first and a magazine second (check out the print edition, though, it’s pretty fun), but it still follows that same fashion mag edict – form first, function second, if at all. Depending on the application, that ethos can either be fantastical or head-scratchingly odd.

The site recently released its top 10 lists for the season’s accessories, and its choice for The Best Bag of Fall 2012 struck me as the latter. This Fendi Crocodile Clutch maybe be a beautiful evening bag, but a great piece of functional design it is not. Box clutches never are, no matter how pretty they may be. Not only that, but this little evening bag isn’t even indicative of the season’s overall accessories trends. So what gives? (more…)

Yesterday I had the pleasure to tour the newly renovated Salvatore Ferragamo flagship store on Fifth Avenue prior to its official unveiling earlier today. Crafty workers were still busy putting finishing touches on the new decor to have it perfectly presentable for the next morning, but all chaotic last minute touches aside, it was easy to see that the redesign was worthy of a true Fifth Ave flagship.

Occupying an area of about 20,000 square feet, the new Ferragamo store now houses the brand’s largest retail space in the world. The store extends over two floors, the main floor catering to women, while the second floor is entirely devoted to men’s apparel, shoes and accessories.

Personally, I found the revamped flagship to be both characteristic of a luxury Italian brand, but at the same time providing a welcoming retail experience. Lots of walnut wood and luxurious Alcantara accents provide a warm environment, while dark oak and polished steel add modernity. Notably, I found the store to lack unnecessary gimmickry and distracting gadgets; your attention is quickly drawn to the minimalist shelves displaying the gorgeous product.

If you live in town or plan to visit New York City, I recommend you check out the new store and do some damage to your credit line. I myself am seriously considering popping up to Floor #2 and going for a custom suit.

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