I said not too long ago that I was experiencing some ennui in regards to the Marc Jacobs Stam, but as it turns out, I was wrong. That’s right, I’m a big, fat liar. Because I’m in love with the Stam again, and this time it’s because of the Marc Jacobs Stardust Stam. If this is an It-Bag gone wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

Marc Jacobs Stardust Stam

Not only do I love the name (it reminds me of Las Vegas, a city which I am newly obsessed with thanks to The Hangover), but the updates are subtle enough to retain the charm of the original Stam while still being interesting enough to catch the eye of any handbag fan that’s familiar with the line. Studs are a somewhat trendy bag accent, but the ones here are small enough to not overpower an already iconic design. Plus, there’s the color – a beautiful, bright teal that will add a pop of color to any drab winter outfit. I’m usually not much for gold hardware, but I still think that it’s the only way to go with the Stam, and the combination here is beautiful. Buy through Nordstrom for $1450.

No matter how much it goes in and out of style, my dedication to animal print persists. In the hands of unskillful designers, it can often go sadly awry, but when done correctly, I enjoy it so thoroughly.

Yves Saint Laurent Animal Print Muse II

And some may disagree, but I think the Yves Saint Lauren Animal Print Muse II is done absolutely right. In order to temper a strong statement like leopard, it’s important to keep a bag’s other lines and features sleek and clean, which is exactly what the folks at Yves Saint Laurent did. The Muse II was a fabulous candidate for the animal print treatment because of both its inherent simplicity of design and also its status as a must-have It Bag. That way, if you don’t like the animal print, there are plenty of other versions available. And if you do, not only is it an It Bag, but it’s one that everyone who sees you will notice immediately. For better or for worse. But I think it’s for better. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $2295.

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. I took lots of comparative lit classes in college because their assignments usually involved forming an opinion on a book and then arguing it in a paper. My life is exceedingly wordy and over-articulated. I talk too much.

Yves Saint Laurent Y-Bow Suede Bowler

Having said all of that, I can’t decide for the life of me what I think about the Yves Saint Laurent Y-Bow Suefe Bowler. I’m in a Yves Saint Laurent mood lately, partly because I like the way that they unconventionally combine materials and textures in some of their recent bags. I like that they stamped suede to look like lizard skin here, it’s a technique that most designers wouldn’t use in this combination. I also think that I might like the little bow ends coming out of each side, but I’m not sure. It might not work, and I have no idea how to decide if it does or not. As with the texture, I like that it’s unexpected, but instead of doing something interesting with the bag’s form or structure, it’s just a stuck-on decoration to a basic satchel. But maybe I’m okay with that – I just can’t decide. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $1695.

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.

Burberry Leather Satchel

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.

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.

Valentino Petale SatchelIt 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.

Bottega Veneta Settantasei Ostrich Satchel

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.

Sonia Rykiel Chou Chou Frame BagPart 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.
Jimmy Choo Maia Hobo
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.

Marc Jacobs Safety Pin Stam

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…)

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