Earlier this week, I came across a great profile of new handbag line Mansur Gavriel by Lauren Sherman over at Fashionista, and the bags were so good – and filled such an obvious gap in the contemporary market – that I couldn’t help but run right over here to share the good news with you guys. If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so hard to find a simple, elegant leather handbag at a non-outrageous, you’re not alone – designers Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel wondered that, too.

I receive multiple press pitches from multiple new handbag brands hoping to get a mention here every day, and to be quite honest, most of them have missed the design mark entirely. The contemporary marketplace has enough slouchy, fringe-y hobos with decorative hardware. What the contemporary market needs is more brands making modern, unfussy bags using the best materials available at the price point – essentially, doing what Hermes or Celine do with their simpler leather bags, but on a more affordable scale. With its first collection, that’s what Mansur Gavriel appears to be attempting to do. The exteriors of the bag are rendered in smooth, neutral leather, while the interiors have a contrasting bright coating. Personally, I’m hoping that future lines expand the bright colors to the exteriors as well.

According to Sherman, all of the bags in the brand’s first collection are made of Italian leather and assembled in China, but there’s good news for those of you who are allergic to those words – as of Spring 2014, the brand will move production of its bags to Italy. Unfortunately, there’s also a bit of bad news. Basically the entire Fall 2013 collection, which ranges from $65 to a phone case to $495 for the bucket bag you see above, is already sold out. It’s not even August. Clearly, there’s a demand for reasonably priced bags that don’t look like they’re made for someone who looks up to Vanessa Hudgens as a style icon. (Clare Vivier’s success should have taught designers that as well.)

When the Spring 2014 bags come around, you’ll be able to shop the line at Net-a-Porter. For now, you’ll have to stalk your favorites at MansurGavriel.com and hope that your local Bird, Madison or Steven Alan boutique might have a couple left in stock.

Handbag transitions can be hard. Not only do colors change from season to season, but so do textures and shapes. All three of those elements combine to give a bag its overall feel, and finding a finished product that can straddle two seasons is no small feat, especially when you don’t have an unlimited handbag budget. If that sounds like a problem you’re trying to solve, look no further than the Diane von Furstenberg 440 Mini Shoulder Bag.

First, the color of this bag is perfect if you’re looking for something to carry literally year-round. It’s somewhere between winter white and beige, with a slightly lighter central panel and a bit of very subtle lizard embossing on the top flap. This is the type of color that mixes well with either cutoffs or a chocolate brown wool coat, and there aren’t a lot of colors of which the same can be said. It’s a fine line to walk.

Then you’ve got shape. Summer is the season of mini bags, and often the same type of tiny purse can look out of place when the weather turns cooler. At 11 inches wide, this bag calls itself “mini,” but that’s only true relative to the satchel from which it takes its name. In reality, this is more of a medium-size shoulder bag that can be carried either as a crossbody or with the chain strap doubled, which means that the feel can be more casual and summer-appropriate or formal and fall-like. Also, the texture of the leather plays into the shape nicely – it’s not too rigid, but structured enough that the bag won’t look like a sloppy summer option that got carried over a little too far into October.

What’s nicest, though, is the price. At $295, this bag barely moves the needle as far as handbag prices go, and for that price, you get a versatile, well-designed bag that’ll be in your rotation well beyond the end of summer. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $295.

In our minds, 3.1 Phillip Lim has been on an accessories roll lately. He won the CFDA’s 2013 Accessories Designer of the Year honor last month, sure, but it might be even more impressive that he’s managed to make me want to buy a camouflage handbag. (Okay, maybe that’s only more impressive to me.) Now, another Lim bag has shot to the top of our collective shopping list, and this time it’s the 3.1 Phillip Lim Ryder Bag. (more…)

As much as I like the trend for holographic handbags (and I really, really like it), the Milly Hologram Demi Tote may have gone a bridge too far, and I bet most of you can guess why that is. I have faith in you guys. You’re smart people. (more…)

I used to be very much anti-camouflage. I remember the trend coming around when I was in high school, and I always felt very clever telling people that I thought camo should be worn by combat troops and No Limit Soldiers only, which is why you’d never find me wearing it. We’re all so cute at that age, aren’t we? As an adult, I’m more open-minded, and Valentino recently proved that camo can indeed be done in a successfully high-end way. Right now, though, we’re pretty interested in 3.1 Phillip Lim’s Camouflage Bags. (more…)

Even if you don’t spend as much time online shopping as I do (and for the sake of your work performance and/or the well-being of your children, I hope you don’t), you’ve probably gotten a distinct sense of the “blahs” over the past two weeks. After the initial frenetic rush of sale season passed, there’s been little to amuse ourselves with except for a few stray pre-fall arrivals and the occasional attempt to squint at the tiny, half-obscured accessories in Resort 2014 lookbooks. (Seriously, can’t we get some full-size detail shots?) As a result, these Sophie Hulme Floral Envelope Bags feel like a breath of fresh air. (more…)

It’s not often that I’m confused by handbags. Not only have I been writing about them (and obsessing over them) for a living for a few years now, but I have all the powers of Google at my fingertips, which means that I can generally clear up any questions I have without any problems. With that in mind, the fact that I can find literally no information about Time’s Arrow Handbags only makes me more intrigued. The fact that the bags are modern, well-priced contemporary staples doesn’t hurt, either.

Seriously, I looked. I searched. I tried domain names that I thought might be helpful, and even called a cryptic phone number that I found on one of them that, in hindsight, didn’t indicate in any way that it was associated with a handbag brand. (No one picked up.) I learned that “Time’s Arrow” is a term somehow associated with the videogame Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and after a short detour to find out if anyone’s made a Zelda iPhone game yet (they haven’t), I decided that the best I could do would be to show you what’s available from Time’s Arrow at Neiman Marcus, which is the place that I first came across the brand’s bags a couple of days ago. There’s some definite Celinespiration going on here, but the brand does a pretty good job pulling it off. In particular, the smooth, flat leather achieves a nicely high-end look that so many brands look for but never quite achieve. Our favorites are below – check out the full selection from this mystery brand at Neiman Marcus.

Time’s Arrow Trilogy Crossbody Bag
$695 via Neiman Marcus

Time's Arrow Trilogy Leather Crossbody Bag

Time’s Arrow Jo Bicolor Pocket Tote
$765 via Neiman Marcus

Time's Arrow Jo Leather Bicolor Pocket Tote

Time’s Arrow Jo Pocket Tote
$765 via Neiman Marcus

Time's Arrow Jo Leather Pocket Tote

Time’s Arrow Infinite Tote
$595 via Neiman Marcus

Time's Arrow Infinite Tote

The grace with which the Olsen Twins walk the fashion-celebrity tightrope never ceases to amaze me. Not only is The Row one of perhaps only two celebrity-owned fashion lines to generate any true industry respect at all (the other, arguably, is Victoria Beckham’s), but Elizabeth and James, the sisters’ long-running contemporary label, churns out wearable, stylish, reasonably accessible clothes for chic young women, season after season. Often, I forget that it has an celeb associations at all, but when I saw these backpacks, from the brand’s first handbag collection, the connection to The Row felt pretty clear.

Is there any better-known or more widely discussed backpack in fashion than The Row’s? It’s sleek, modern, and in alligator, it costs in excess of $30,000. It makes sense that Elizabeth and James would have a little-sister version of that bag, even though the two brands aren’t all that closely associated with each other; The Row’s backpacks sell out like crazy, and of course women with a similar sense of style but more modest budget are interested in getting the same look without searching for a straight-up knock-off. This bag retains the simple, clean feel of the more expensive bag, but it’s a little slouchier, a little more casual, a little more 90s. It’s also a lot less expensive, starting at $445 for regular leather and ranging up to $595 for spotted calf hair.

Sometimes, you lay eyes on a bag for the first time and it just makes you happy. The elements click into place and form a relatively harmonious whole, the leather choice works for the desired structure, the bag feels modern, but not like it’s trying too hard. That’s what happened for me when I saw the Botkier Honore Satchel at the brand’s headquarters last week – I just knew. (more…)

This year in New York City, it’s often seemed like we’ve gone straight from extended winter to early summer – one week it was in the 50s and spitting rain, and then literally the next week it was 90 degrees and sweltering. Now it’s June and I’m not sure what to think, except that I’m a tad excited that the weather map shows temperatures in the mid-70s for the next week and we might actually have a belated spring for a few days. I’m nervous that won’t actually happen, though, because NYC has burned me before, and if it doesn’t, I can always just pick up a Kate Spade Garden Groves Felisha Bag.

If there’s such a thing as the ability to distill a season into a single handbag, then this one definitely does it. The pink tweed bag is over-embellished with everything from translucent neon pailletes, to rhinestones, to bugle beads, and the result is a technicolor floral experience that the wearer could probably best recreate elsewhere via the use of certain illegal substances. Not that we advocate that, of course, particularly when a safe, legal avenue to eternal spring is currently open to you. Be careful, though – it you’re going to want to combine this bag with a fairly simple ensemble, lest you turn out looking like a futuristic Mother Nature yourself. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $498.

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