As an accessories brand, Tom Ford is still trying to get its sea legs. The line of bags and shoes is successful, but Ford has yet to have the kind of breakthrough, blockbuster hit that would send the business into the stratosphere. Handbag design is notoriously difficult to master for brands that have always been known, first and foremost, for other things (just ask Christian Louboutin), and now Ford appears to be looking for his signature, both literally and figuratively. (more…)

If you’ve been aware of designer handbags for more than, say, the past day or two, you’ve seen your fair share of black and white bags. The sharp, modern color combination fits perfectly with the backlash against uber-trendy neons, prints and embellishments, which at times all appeared together on the same bag. (Of course, leave it to fashion to combat trend culture with a new trend.) Seemingly every designer under the sun has tried their hands at the look, but a relative handbag newcomer has beaten almost all of them with the Narciso Rodriguez Mixed-Media Envelope Shoulder Bag. (more…)

To be perfectly honest, I don’t pay all that much attention to Roberto Cavalli. In my head, I associate the Italian machismo-machine more with yacht parties and tiger-print silk caftans than with clothes and accessories that are relevant to my own (urban, slightly tomboyish) personal style, and I’m probably pretty far from his target customer. Despite all of that, I saw the Roberto Cavalli Floral Shoulder Bag and immediately fell in love. (more…)

When I first sat down to write this post, I figured I’d find five or six good examples of drawstring bags to include in it, under the assumption that the trend was rising but had yet to crest. Well, I was wrong – within five minutes or so, I had dozens of browser windows open, all with worthy candidates for inclusion at price points from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Drawstring bags, in all their versions, are a bona fide, capital-T Thing. All of a sudden!

I first got to thinking about this subject yesterday when I noticed that the Mansur Gavriel drawstring bag we featured in a post had already sold out on Net-a-Porter. After Instagramming a picture of that same bag, which the brand had sent to me and which I received yesterday morning, people started asking me where it could be found – they were in search of that particular design, the collection’s clear favorite. The simple shape and minimal finishing has clearly struck a chord with consumers, and I must admit, there’s something satisfying about gathering up the top of the bag and tying the leather cord in a slick bow.

Drawstring bucket bags first gained popularity with the iconic Louis Vuitton Noe Bag and then again had a moment several years ago, which spawned perennial favorites like the Alexander Wang Diego Bucket Bag, back in as many versions as ever for fall. As best as I can tell, the shape came around again with The Row’s highly influential (and highly expensive) backpack, and now it’s everywhere, with relatively little fanfare. Below, check out some of the trend’s best representations across the board, including a refreshed version of the original Vuitton.

Sometimes, a bag just doesn’t make sense until you see it on someone. I’ve seen the Anya Hindmarch Bathurst Bag on plenty of retail websites, and I’ve always found it a bit confusing; Why the big strap? Why make the big strap a different color? It’s a nice bag, of course, but it didn’t quite click for me until I saw someone carrying the black version with its blue strap (it also comes with a tonal black strap) in front of me on Madison Avenue over the weekend. Then everything made sense.

The bag itself is quite petite, although not small enough to be non-functional; it’s about as big as the average crossbody, just made over in stately, structured, ladylike fashion. In that context, the contrasting strap makes sense, both in color and proportion, because it’s not the type of bag that anyone would expect to be carried that way – why not call that incongruity out to fashionable effect? The woman in front of me on the street was wearing the bag slung across her body, with the black bag and blue strap contrasting against her mustard yellow jacket. It was the picture of weekend elegance, which, as it turns out, is still an actual thing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Who knew?

To make your own weekend elegance happen, pick up this bag for $1,995 via MyTheresa.

As much fun as It Bags and logos can be from time to time, sometimes you just want to fly under the radar. Maybe it’s a situation in which something conspicuous isn’t appropriate (think a professional event or job interview), or maybe you’re just not feeling particularly flashy. Good taste is, well, always in good taste. Luxury handbags are rarely inconspicuous, though – even tween starlets are carrying Celine these days. That’s where the Delvaux Madame Bag comes in.

Despite being nearly 200 years old, Brussels-based Delvaux is a brand that’s chosen to restrict itself to only a small, exclusive clientele. That means that bags like the Madame are every bit as luxurious and well-made as pieces from more famous designers, but they’re not quite so immediately recognizable. Although Delvaux can sometimes edge into “old lady” territory with some of its more traditional pieces, bags like the Madame (which converts from a classic shoulder bag to a more functional crossbody with just a few snaps) have helped modernize the brand for a more modern audience. In these muted tones, the bag is perfect for spring.

Delvaux Madame PM Shoulder Bag, Dove Grey
$3,500 via Barneys

Delvaux Madame PM Shoulder Bag Dove

Delvaux Madame PM Shoulder Bag, Blush
$3,500 via Barneys

Delvaux Madame PM Shoulder Bag Blush

Everyone knows the name Ralph Lauren, but few handbag lovers associate the brand with great bags. While Ralph Lauren has designed some beauties like the Ricky, the majority of their handbags slide far below the radar and are not acknowledged by the accessories community at large. It’s a pity; Ralph Lauren is so expansive and major that you would assume the brand would churn out beautiful purses as well.

Every New York Fashion Week, I end the festivities with the Ralph Lauren show, and it’s always one of the most breathtaking collections, season after season. The clothing is magical and the accessories that walk the runway are brought to life by the outfits. Lately, it appears as though accessories department at Ralph Lauren is trying to revamp its offers by working to make Lauren’s handbags not only better, but also more recognizable. I don’t usually opt for fringe nor suede, but when I saw this Ralph Lauren Suede Fringe Crossbody bag, I fell in love.

The style is straightforward, but everything about it has the perfect all-American vibe that the brand is known for. I’m such a casual clothing gal, and this bag matches perfectly with everything I wear while also giving a bit of liveliness to my look. When I carried this bag, all I found myself doing was swishing back and forth and side to side. We all miss the playfulness that leaves us as we become adults, and fringe has a way to bring back those memories. More importantly, this bag is quite beautiful, and I hope to see much more from Ralph Lauren in the coming seasons. Priced at $795, available via Ralph Lauren.

Calling all animal print lovers, this is an animal print handbag you do not want to miss out on. While procrastinating on doing my ever-so-interesting homework (hopefully my professors aren’t reading this), the Tory Burch Medium Haircalf Top Bag caught my eye. It’s the perfect accessory that can be used all year round, and it’ll give any outfit that double-take factor. Anyone who knows me well knows about my love for anything with animal print, and as soon as I saw this bag I felt compelled to share this with my fellow bag lovers.

My love for exotic prints dates back to high school, where I wore an all-leopard dress to my senior prom. As you can see, four years later, exotic prints continuously get incorporated into my wardrobe through both my clothing and accessories. This Tory Burch shoulder bag is the perfect accessory that can be used all year round, and will give any outfit that double-take factor. This bag has an array of fabrics and textures but it’s all combined tastefully, just like everything in Ms. Burch’s line. (more…)

In case you hadn’t heard, Dolce & Gabbana is shutting down its little sister line D&G after Spring 2012. That means that the D&G clothes, handbags and shoes in store right now are the last we’ll ever see. (Until the line has a Versus-like revival in 10 or 15 years, of course.) If these three D&G Printed Quilted Twill Bags are any indication, the brand intends to go out with a bang instead of a whimper.

Despite the loud and borderline-tacky patterns and colors, I find myself digging all three of these options. This is the look that Versace goes for – playful, in-your-face luxury – and rarely achieves, not to mention that the D&G price point is much more appropriate for a non-leather bag with a very season pattern. That’s right, all of these options can be had for less than $1000. Check out the bags after the jump. (more…)

Isabel Marant Melly Embroidered Bag, $1235. Isabel Marant Malou Emebellished Suede Clutch, $1080. Both via Net-a-Porter.

Watch out, I’m about to commit fashion blasphemy: I find Isabel Marant a bit tedious. I like her clothing on an aesthetic level, of course. There’s a reason that every supermodel and editor this side of Berlin is photographed wearing Marant almost constantly; her work is impeccable. But between her revulsion over women with breasts and her tone-deaf appropriation of the prints of native cultures that the Western world has almost entirely obliterated, she seems hell-bent on inhabiting every negative French stereotype that comes to mind.

That being said, I would wear the beads off of that burgundy bag up there. The Isabel Marant Malou Embellished Suede Clutch. Yep, and I’d hate myself a little bit for it. Why do people who annoy me have to make such pretty things sometimes? (more…)

Follow Closely