Ask anyone that knows me (including Megs and Vlad) – I’ve never had much of a problem forming an opinion. About pretty much anything, in fact. I was captain of the debate team in high school.
According to a graphic design professor I had in college, the vast majority of the US population chooses blue as their favorite color, and it’s relatively uncommon to find someone that chooses differently. Before she shared this factoid with us, she went around the room and asked everyone in the twenty-person class what color they liked best. Indeed, 19 people said blue. I was the lone holdout – my favorite color has been red for a long, long time (when I was very little, it was black). And not just any red – more specifically, scarlet. Not quite dark enough to be maroon, but darker and richer than a fire engine. I am endlessly in search of bags (and anything else) that fit this criteria, and in my experience, a good red bag is unfortunately hard to find.
Which is why I was so pleased to see the brand new Burberry Leather Satchel. Because of the nature of red pigmentation, in can be really difficult to get a rich color on leather and red bags often lack the pop that I desire. Not so with this purse, though – the red is deep and lovely (patent or glazed red bags usually have better luck getting this effect) and the bag’s design is simple enough to show off the great color. The hardware details are also great, but not overdone – the chain and the handle attachment are both subtly imprinted with Burberry’s signature check pattern. Buy through Nordstrom for $895.
If the old adage that bad things come in threes is to be believed, then there is one more terrible Valentino bag out there that’s I’m going to have to hate on before the brand returns to it’s normally fabulous self. First, a few days ago, there was the Valentino Petale Satchel, which was too squished and not the right color. There was also the Valentino Bow Shopping Tote that Anna didn’t like, but I’m not counting it in my personal list of unfortunate bags since I didn’t write about it (although perhaps it does count cosmically, I don’t know if the powers that be consider bylines when dealing with triads of bad bags). Regardless, my next entry in my list of three is the Valentino Houndstooth Fleur Bag.
I think I understand what they were trying to accomplish here (theoretically, that would be a bag that Charlotte from Sex and the City would wear with some pearls), but the combination of the tightly wound patent leather flowers and the woven nylon houndstooth (I died a little bit typing that) fabric is not luxurious in the least. In fact, it strikes me as almost costume-y, although I’m not sure what costume it would go with…maybe if you’re going as a WASP this Halloween. Buy through Nordstrom for $1395.
It pains me to write this since I normally adore Valentino bags, particularly those that play on their ever-popular rose theme. But, as far as the Valentino Petale Satchel goes, I just can’t get on board.
A lot of their bags are ruffly and fluffy and plush in a way that few other designers are able to execute with any level of skill at all, but this one is just sort of flat. And I mean that both literally and figuratively. In the physical sense, it looks like this bag was shipped in a box stuffed with a few too many of its brothers and sisters. Instead of big and fabulous, the flowered front looks squashed and flat. And it’s not just the picture – the bag looks like that in person too, or maybe like someone cut off the big petals at the base, and this is all that’s left. As a result, the bag doesn’t have the personality that most of the similarly themed Valentino bags have, and I’ll have to take a pass on this one. Buy through Saks for $2495.
It always confuses me when a designer takes an exotic skin, which is already a work of art in and of itself, and tries to do something intricate with it (usually something that involves cutting it into tiny pieces, either for weaving or for a laser-cut design). It seems like…well, it seems like a bit of a waste of a beautiful skin. I’ve got similar concerns with the Bottega Veneta Settantasei Ostrich Bag, which uses ostrich hide instead of traditional leather to make the signature Bottega Veneta intrecciato weave.
BV does better here than most do, though, because the copper finish combined with the ultra-textured feel of the bag give it a simultaneous glimmer and roughness that might not be achievable with regular, smooth leather. The finish is honestly quite cool, but I can’t help shake the feeling that exotic skins come with an inherent design to them and some of their charm is lost when they’re too heavily deconstructed. Plus, if I’m going to pay a premium for an exotic, I want that skin to be as intact as possible for maximum exotic effect. When you combine the high price of this bag with the way the skin was used, I’m not sure it’s worth it. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $7350.
Part of Sonia Rykiel‘s charm is that her stuff is a little weird. A little quirky. A little eccentric. The company does its own thing, marches to the beat of its own drummer, and makes its own rules. Their aesthetic is unique and all theirs.
Nevermind. I’m not in a particularly charitable mood. The Sonia Rykiel Chou-Chou Frame Bag is just kinda odd looking, and maybe a bit 90s. I’m generally okay with the amount and color of the hardware – silver studs are cool and experiencing a resurgence. There’s a lot of them, but the bag is small, so whatever. I can get on board with that. What is bothering me is the balance and proportion of the bag. It consists of two kisslock compartments, one significantly larger than the other. The top handle attaches to each section on one end…but it’s not centered. So you’ve got a lopsided bag with no centralization to the body, and then also a handle that’s attached farther to one side than the other. I know that it was done intentionally, but it just isn’t visually appealing in the least and it’s…awkward. Awkward is the word I’m looking for. I think I’ll pass. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $1530.
At first, I really wanted to dislike this incarnation of the Jimmy Choo Maia Hobo. It is, as La Gunn would say, a lot of look. It’s suede and animal print and color-blocked and wooden-handled. It has an extra strap that Choo is pretending makes it a hobo (ha, it totally doesn’t) and it’s got a center zipper that makes the bag larger or smaller, depending on how you use it. The Maia? She’s no shrinking violet.
And besides the extra shoulder strap (a message to the folks at Choo – an extra strap doesn’t suddenly make a satchel a hobo. This is a satchel), I kinda like it, but only if the zippered portion is left open (which is my feeling about almost all of the Choo zip-center bags). It reminds me of the Louis Vuitton safari aesthetic of this season, but executed in a more edited and reasonable way. The material means it would probably get dirty fast, but if I had a bunch (and I do mean a BUNCH, it’s way overpriced) of extra cash laying around, I’d rock it. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $2995.
Just when we all thought that Marc Jacobs couldn’t possibly find something new to do with the Stam, we all get proven wrong. Let’s look back for a moment: we’ve seen Stams in python, jersey, patent, Swarovski crystals, leather both flat and quilted, and ostrich. We’ve seen both gold 80s chains and demure silver box chains. Baby Stams, big Stams, hobo Stams and east/west Stams. Crap, at this point, there might as well be green eggs and Stams. (more…)
Sometimes it takes a handbag outsider to remind us how it’s done. All of us bag people can get a little caught up in logos, leather types, and the traditional bag powerhouses at times, but sometimes it’s nice to peer outside that, to people that make clothes first, and then bags, and see what they come up with.
Jil Sander is one of those designers. She’s known more for her overall minimalist aesthetic than her accessories collections, so we don’t cover her often, but her Oversized Leather Bag is nothing short of impressive. In her trademark simplistic color scheme – if you can really call “Black and More Black” a color scheme – Sander has created a functional, grown-up bag for a woman with a self-assured sense of style. An interesting visual point – there is no exposed hardware on this bag (a similar feature of the Fringe Satin Clutch). Even the small buckles attaching the handles are wrapped in black leather, reinforcing the monochromatic, minimalistic look for which Sander is known. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $1490.
Shoe designers cross over and become bag designers with varying amounts of success. The recent example that most of us know best is Jimmy Choo: the long-time shoe brand added a bag line a few years ago and hasn’t looked back. They have a dedicated following and have used bags as a way to introduce a new group of women to the brand that may not have previously thought they needed $800 stilettos in their lives.
Some shoes brand don’t perform quite as well as Choo does in the bag arena, however. Namely Christian Louboutin. I’ve written previously about how I love his shoes and am deeply unsatisfied by his purse offering, but I saw the Schoolita Framed Bag today and actually kind of liked it, so I thought I’d share it with you. The one thing I really DON’T like about it: it reminds me greatly of many recent bags by a different Christian – Christian Dior. It looks like the leather is soft, though, and it’s in this season’s biggest color. Plus, I’m one of those people that can be easily won over with a lining, and this bag’s is in the signature red of a Louboutin sole. I’m not a huge fan by any means, but it’s a lot better than a lot of what the brand puts out, handbag-wise. Buy through Saks for $1495.
As much as we love the established designers with their signature handbags, we get giddy for new designers offering handbags that we must have. It does not happen often that there is a bag that I see that I absolutely MUST HAVE. I can rave about specific bags and even profess my love, but if I am not out buying them up, they are not on the same level. Recently, I had to have the latest DvF Bag, and I went out and bought it. Of course there are pricing restrictions, but once you catch me raving incessantly, that is most likely a bag that will be added to my collection.
A lot of you liked the Proenza Schouler PS1 Leather Pouchette I wrote about last week, but expressed some concern at being able to coordinate the color and finding enough uses for a clutch. Well, since I like to be service-y, I thought I’d show you guys something that would satisfy both of those concerns: the Proenza Schouler Medium Suede PS1 Bag. I’m normally not much for off-white, but I think the color (which is referred to as “sand” on the website) is perfectly suited in this bag. It enhances the vintage feel, but the relatively clean lines of the bag’s structure give it a modern edge that keeps it from being too sloppy.
The suede looks thin enough that it would slouch like a champ once broken in, and although suede is a color that can attract dirt, I almost feel like this bag would look even better once it looked a bit used. The design isn’t at all gimmicky, and nothing about this bag will look dated in a few years – in fact, I’d really love to have one, since I don’t think I’d ever get tired of it. The size also looks just about perfect for everyday use. Buy through Barney’s for $1595.