Alaia Arabesque Tote, $3395 via Net-a-Porter

Whenever I write about an Alaia bag, I can more or less pinpoint the range of reactions that it will receive. The people who think that Alaia is, like, a totally important designer will ooh and ahh. The people who haven’t joined Azzedine’s cult of personality will complain that it’s either too simple or too similar to all the other Alaia bags. Portions of both groups will bemoan the price tag, perhaps justifiably.

That’s the thing about Alaia – he has more or less opted out of all the fashion industry hoopla, so it’s hard to get a handle on exactly what his company is turning out and how it compares to what everyone else does. It’s 2011, and the company still doesn’t have a website, let alone a Twitter or Tumblr. He recently got in to the couture business when other corporate-owned companies are bailing out. So what, exactly, is the value of an Alaia handbag, and what would you be willing to pay for this one?

There’s not a single premier designer whose handbag prices are even casually related to how much it actually costs to manufacture a handbag; that’s the unpleasant truth, across the board. Image accounts for a huge amount of money. Considering that, Alaia gets a bit of a price bump for mysteriousness. The brand is only sold online by a couple of extremely exclusive retailers, and as previously mentioned, it has no official web presence of its own. Alaia also doesn’t show during any of the official Fashion Weeks, and neither the lack of site or show is the result of a lack of interest on the part of the industry. In that way, Alaia is like the handsome man you’d love to date but who isn’t particularly interested in you; his lack of interest where so many others are clamoring for attention only makes him more desirable.

And then, for those of us lucky enough to have seen Alaia’s pieces in person, there’s the question of quality. Actually, though, it’s not a question at all – this stuff is top-notch. Even this simply shaped tote is completely lined in tan leather, and because of Alaia’s relatively small operation, it’s safer to assume that a larger proportion of the bag’s assembly work was done by a real person than it is with most brands. Perhaps even the tiny studs on the exterior were hand-applied. That, too, will up a bag’s price.

All that being said, though, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around a price tag with a three in front of it for what amounts to a very nice embellished tote. I would say the same for any brand, including Chanel and Hermes; I simply don’t believe that there’s anything that can be done in this shape and with this material to justify that kind of price. Drop it in to the 2,000s and then we can talk. Clearly, it looks as though others disagree – you would be able to buy this tote via Net-a-Porter for $3395 if it hadn’t already sold out.

  • KellyX

    I love love this bag but no, cant justify the price. I’m employed after all, and not any tycoon’s wife with unlimited spending ..

  • Lucinda

    I love many of Alaia’s designs and was fortunate to see some of their pieces IRL in Paris, whilst beautifully made I just cannot stomach the prices compared with other designers…

  • PhotoGirl

    If money were no object, I would pay whatever Alaia asked for this, or any, of his creations. For me, he is the master. That he has chosen to remain outside the fashion-industrial complex only enhances his cachet, in my eyes. I love, love, love his work.
    Alas this bag, like most of what is shown here, is out of my reach. But that in no way dims my appreciation.

  • lintmag

    Bag prices have gone insane in the last 5 or so years. I remember when Alaia came out with his first shoes and the price was also jaw-dropping. This is pretty and I’m sure the quality is great, but I would be fascinated to know exactly what the markup is – I’m also talking to you, Tom Ford, Hermes, …

  • lisa

    Personally, I worship Alaia’s clothing and am fortunate enough to have several pieces. However, I can’t quite get on board with his handbag collection. While this is a great looking tote, I just don’t think its worth the money, nor is it an investment, like his clothing.

  • edoardo

    I lvoe his clothing and collections but thee bags are just nice but not so cool and this price is just crazy for this kind of bag!

    http://fashiondoesntexist.blogspot.com/

  • Edia

    Im always amazed at whats sold out at net-a-porter. but actually we dont know just how many bags they had online to begin with. for example the company im working for sometimes has an online stock of only 4 or 5 pieces. i can see 4 or 5 people buying this bag ;D

  • Natalie

    Im not a fan. at all. I wouldn’t buy that bag even if it was $20

  • Addicted Fashionista

    I think Alaia is a master in couture the reason why he’s not in front row with the A list designer is simply because he’s being banned .. By Anna Wintour The maker and braked of A list designers

    Maybe it’s personal .. Just saying

  • eddie

    looks like LV pattern to me.

  • J Umm
  • rose60610

    Nice bag, but for the money you can do (a lot) better. I have some Alaia clothes, and honestly, while they’re “nice”, they’re not ga-ga fantastic. If I’m going to flip out over a label, it’s not going to be this one.

  • Perry P

    Alaia is more creatively inclined towards shoes and clothes than the bags.

  • Rashida

    I am not a fan of the bag. Not at all. It isn’t pleasing to my eye, and I wouldn’t pay the price that they are asking for it. It is way way way overpriced and it is not cute at all…

  • Kelli Nicole

    I am not wild about this bag and certainly wouldn’t pay over 3k for it…And I have seen bags this expensive and thought to myself, if I had it like that I would def buy this! But this is not one of those bags! Lol

  • Maryam in Marrakech

    I think it is absolutely gorgeous but I can’t see paying more than $1600-$1800 although I have paid more than that for a studded burberry prorsum. I do acknowledge that all that studding takes a great deal of meticulous work.

  • paula

    I do like the bag. this being said, at first look I thought it was part of the Adidas collection. I am pretty sure it’s not worth 3395€, not even if fairies sew it together!

  • Elyse Greenberg

    This bag is definitely not worth it’s price tag.

  • Shirley J

    not THAT much!!!!!! im not even crazy bout this bag

  • Alice

    I don’t think it’s worth even half that price but it’s definitely a beautiful and classic bag

  • Bcm4

    It is really beautiful to hold though. I checked it out at Colette’s in Paris.