Don’t ask me how all this started.

I’m a longtime camo-hater and have admitted as much when writing about the enormous fall trend for the print a couple of times in the recent past. A talented designer interpreting even something I hate is enough to make me take a second look, though, and for fall, tons of talented designers took on camo. My opinion softened under the weight of all those camouflage options, and then when I spotted the Prada Camo-Print Soft Saffiano Tote, it caved entirely. I’m in love. (more…)

With me, Prada gets the benefit of the doubt. The brand and its designer, Miuccia Prada, have earned it – with every collection, Prada is saying something, questioning something, trying to force us to think a little bit harder about our assumptions on fashion, beauty and womanhood. I want to believe that the Prada Fall 2013 Runway Handbags are trying to send me some kind of message that I’m just not getting, but instead, I think these might be a rare true dud for Prada.

That was my instinct back when most of these bags debuted on the Fall 2013 runway in Milan, and now that they’re available for pre-order at Saks, my gut reaction hasn’t changed. These smaller versions of the runway weekender-bowler bags aren’t quite as awkwardly a-proportional as their catwalk cohorts, but the ultra-long handles culminated in too-low handle attachements still feel like a not-quite-true-to-life artist’s rendering of what a bowler bag would look like. Maybe that’s the message, though. If it is, I’m not sure I’m interested in it. If you are, check out the most important pieces from the collection after the jump or shop the full selection via Saks.

Here’s gorgeous Glee star Naya Rivera, headed into a photo shoot for 5th season promos, carrying a Prada Saffiano Lux Tote. I respect this NYC level of dedication to black on a sunny summer day in LA – towering black wedges, black jumpsuit, black shades and a classic Prada tote – it’s a sleek, if slightly gothic, look, given the ocean and palm tree backdrop. You can pick up this bag for $2,100 at Neiman Marcus.

Naya has had her fair share of endorsement deals as a result of her Glee success, but aside from nibbling on the big red M&M, and making with the pretty for Neutrogena, she surprisingly hasn’t done much acting work other than Glee as of late. But with a few of her costars jumping ship, she might be seeing a little more screen-time next season.

Miuccia just gets me, man. I should just sign my entire wardrobe budget over to her, between Prada and Miu Miu. I just bought a pair of Prada shoes earlier this week (after initially going shopping to scout out a pair of Miu Mius), and now I’m scheming to making one of these Prada Mini Bags my next big purchase. There’s something about the simple, traditional lines of these bags, miniaturized for more casual carry, that makes me see stars. But in a good way.

I’ve wanted a Prada Saffiano Lux Tote for a long time, but the bag never seemed like it would be the right fit for my lifestyle, mainly because riding public transportation and hoofing it around in NYC, in my mind, requires at least a very generous shoulder strap, if not a crossbody option. Over the past two years, that’s kept me away from buying a lot of bags that I otherwise love, including several Pradas. Now, with these mini versions (which are a big trend for a lot of brands, we’ll have you know), you don’t have to worry about carrying something bulky from the crook of your elbow. This is yet another trend that Celine started, but I’m very happy its spread to lots of other brands.

Prada Mini Saffiano Lux Tote
$1,650 via Neiman Marcus

Prada Mini Saffiano Lux Tote

Prada Saffiano Vernice Promenade Crossbody Bag
$1,570 via Neiman Marcus

Prada Saffiano Vernice Promenade Crossbody Bag

Prada Saffiano Studded Mini Zip Crossbody
$850 via Neiman Marcus

Prada Saffiano Studded Mini Zip Crossbody

Prada Small Saffiano Promenade Bag
$1,870 via Neiman Marcus

Prada Small Saffiano Promenade Bag

With the furious din of bold trends that have swept through fashion in the past few seasons – brights! neons! pastels! exotics! colorblocking! fur! embellishments of all kinds! – it feels positively refreshing to see the clean-lined neutrals that are coming forth for Pre-Fall and Fall 2013. I’m not sure about any of you, but I need a palate cleanser something fierce, and a black-and-white bag seems like just the way to get it. In our latest edition of Look for Less, both Prada and 3.1 Phillip Lim provide sharp-looking options.

Both these bags feature the same boxy shape and spare, center-stripe pattern, but the less-expensive Lim bag provides a bit of slouch and a more modernist feel with its soft leather and black hardware. The higher-priced Prada option gives you what will likely be a more long-term durable bag, what with the stiff, rugged saffiano leather and black leather covering the wear-prone corners. With gold hardware, the look is also a bit more classic and will likely appeal to a wider swath of consumers. Which do you prefer?

3.1 Phillip Lim 31 Hour Bicolor Bag
$795 via Neiman Marcus

3.1 Phillip Lim 31 Hour Bicolor Bag

Prada Bicolor Saffiano Zip Tote
$1,960 via Neiman Marcus

Prada Saffiano Bicolor Zip Tote

Here’s Dorothy Hamill (yes, the 1976 Olympic champ), heading into a Dancing with the Stars after-party in LA with her Prada Saffiano Lux Tote. She withdrew herself from the competition early on in the season because of an injury, but apparently self-elimination doesn’t keep you off the after-party guest list. You can buy the Saffiano in a wide range of colors for $1730 at Neiman Marcus.

We’ve been enamoured with the minimalistic, classically styled Prada Saffiano Lux Tote in its many variations for quite some time – the Prada Printed Saffiano Tote from Spring 2010 is Amanda’s “one that got away”. Are you lucky enough to have a Prada tote in your possession, and if so, do you consider it money well spent?

Dorothy Hamill carries a white Prada Saffiano Luxe Tote to an after-party for "Dancing with the Stars" (1) Dorothy Hamill carries a white Prada Saffiano Luxe Tote to an after-party for "Dancing with the Stars" (2) Dorothy Hamill carries a white Prada Saffiano Luxe Tote to an after-party for "Dancing with the Stars" (3) Dorothy Hamill carries a white Prada Saffiano Luxe Tote to an after-party for "Dancing with the Stars" (4)

My feelings about any Prada collection are complicated. I know that I’ll love what Miuccia Prada sends down the runway, with few exceptions, but I also know that the bags are almost sure to underwhelm me. (Again, with few exceptions.) That was exactly the case with Prada Fall 2013 – both the clothes and the feel of the show were exceptional; a bravura performance from one of the generation’s great masters, doing what she does best. For the bags, my praise is somewhat tempered.

It’s not that they were bad, it’s just that I wanted more from them. The runway featured only two shapes: a simply, generously sized day clutch the likes of which fashion people adore, and an oversized carryall with frustratingly lowered handle attachments. This season’s Prada girl had shades of a Hitchcock heroine in peril, so the need to beat a hasty exist with the essentials in tow made sense. What still seems unnecessary, though, are those aforementioned handles; placing the attachment so low on the bag recalls the plasticized, long-handled weekenders of big box discount stores, which cheapens the look a bit. With pieces finished in custom tweeds and crocodile, that simply shouldn’t happen.

[Photos via Vogue]

Here’s How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan headed to a party with her fam in Venice Beach. Alyson’s carrying the Prada Madras Woven Leather Top Handle Satchel, available at Neiman Marcus for $2,895. Even though this particular satchel is from Prada’s Fall 2011 collection, I still find it has a definite resort/beach bag vibe. Is it just me?

I love Alyson’s casual party get-up in this pic. An auburn floral dress, black knee-high boots, tights and a red and black Prada bag…it’s a little 90′s chic, no? I’ve always found Alyson uber relatable – she’s a little quirky, she never wears anything too fussy and she doesn’t seem like the type of gal who enjoys sitting in a chair for eight hours getting primped and styled within an inch of her life. (Of course, I wouldn’t have pegged her as a Prada girl either, so I could be wrong.)

Anyone who collects anything knows what it feels like to let a particularly wonderful piece slip through his or her fingers and regret it for years afterward; no matter if the objects of your affection are coins or stamps or handbags, the thoughts of what could have been are, to put it bluntly, a major bummer. Whether you consider yourself a handbag collector or just a handbag lover, you’ve likely experienced similar pangs of regret over losing something you never really had in the first place. Friends, I know your pain.

I have plenty of bags on my list of ones that got away, and almost all of them are seasonal printed pieces that won’t ever be made again. There’s Marc Jacobs from 2008, Givenchy from last year and a Fendi bag that has yet to arrive in stores that I already know I won’t buy and will likely search for on eBay for years to come, but above them all, there’s the Prada Printed Saffiano Tote, which hit stores in Spring 2010.

Three years later, I’m still not sure why I adore this bag so much. The pattern is beautiful, yes, but it’s also not at all something I would normally consider wearing. I’m not a girly dresser, and my favorite prints tend to be of the digital, moody or industrial varieties. Prada produced this line of bags from feminine archival scarf prints, and somehow, my favorite of them all has baby blue and dove grey flowers on it. The design is certainly lighting up some sort of pleasure center in my brain, though, because I’m still thinking of and searching for the bag three years and a zillion designs later. I even remember the first time I saw it in person – at Saks in Atlanta – and I was hooked. I still am.

The most recent appearance this bag’s made on the Internet was on BlueFly, quite a while ago, and it’s long since sold out. eBay returns no results, and neither do online designer discounters. I’ll keep my eBay alert going, though, because you never know when someone’s going to clean out her closet and put my own personal white whale up for auction.

What’s your all-time One That Got Away? If you could go back in time and snatch up one piece, what would it be?

Prada’s new collections are always among the first to arrive at online retailers for pre-order. The schedule has become so consistent that to me, the sight of saffiano leather and lean, structured totes feels similar to seeing that first red-breasted robin of spring, only more expensive. The non-runway bags from Prada Spring 2013 arrived at Neiman Marcus for presale yesterday, and I think the temperature outside automatically ticked up a few degrees. (That’s probably all in my head.)

The new bags are all very Prada, of course, but I’m struck by how many of them are also very someone else. The Promenade Satchel is better known as a Louis Vuitton Alma, the Cervo Fringe Tote looks similar to some recent Christian Louboutin ventures and the flared gussets of the Saffiano Bicolor tote are a clear nod to the trend sparked by Celine. On the bright side, the awesome Parabole Tote, which debuted for Resort 2013, is thankfully still around (and in several new colors) and the Degrade Sequin Clutch is a perfect spring wedding option. Check out the collection’s most interesting pieces below or shop the entire lineup via Neiman Marcus.

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