As handbag lovers, we’ve been very lucky recently. Luxury brands are notoriously secretive about their behind-the-scenes processes, particularly their manufacturing, and anyone who knows anything about the counterfeit trade knows exactly why that is. Letting people behind the curtain not only risks trade secrets, but it also chances taking some off the luxurious mystique off of the final product.

My affection for Valentino Fall 2012, a collection from a brand whose runway bags I often don’t love, seems like part of a wider trend for the season. Specifically, if you’re a bag lover, Fall 2012 is going to be chock full of beautiful things for you to lust after and a few that you may actually end up buying and carrying, either for the season for for years afterward.

It’s officially March (where has the year gone?), which means that we’re inching closer and closer to wedding season and there’s lots of wedding planning in full swing. Naturally, we’re most interesting in what kinds of wedding bags people are choosing, and if you’re gettin’ hitched and have yet to decide on yours, we’ve got some good news.

I’ve already got Fashion Week on my mind and one of my favorite things about Fashion Week is bag stalking. Come February, editors, buyers, and miscellaneous cool people alike will be hitting Lincoln Center both wearing and carrying their finest.

I have plenty of handbags in my arsenal, but sometimes an oddly different bag stands out and grabs my attention.

Valentino Bow Flap Bag, $1695 via Neiman Marcus. RED Valentino Bow Shoulder Bag, $495 via Saks.

The similar aesthetics of the Valentino and RED Valentino handbag lines have always surprised me. Sure, a main line and its little sister should have some things in common, but sharing signatures – like Valentino’s bows, for example – always runs one of two risks.

I don’t mention it much in these parts, but I’m a big, enormous vintage fan. At a certain point, I think I hit a wall with regular shopping – I felt like I had seen everything before it hit stores, so once it was there, I was often underwhelmed and ready for something different.

Images via Vogue.com

Now that shows have officially closed for the season and all the bags have been seen (by us, anyway – we’ve still got some more posts for you guys!), I feel comfortable saying that Spring 2012 is probably going to be a bit of a boring season for accessories, at least compared to what we’ve grown used to recently.

Valentino One-of-a-Kind Satchel, $2895 and $1995 via Neiman Marcus

Much has been made by me (not to mention the fashion press at large) over Valentino trying to find its path after the retirement of its namesake and longtime leader. The design team put in place since the transition has made some wonderful pieces, but is also responsible for its share of missteps, many of which we’ve discussed in this space.

I’ve heaped a good bit of criticism onto Valentino and its design duo of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli in the past, and I’m not the only person in the industry who has some questions about the direction of the brand and the aesthetic merit of the pieces it’s turning out.

The Valentino Va Va Voom Crocodile Shoulder Bag, $11,275 via Net-a-Porter

If fashion seasons were like the Olympics, you could call Fall 2011 the Exotic Games – everywhere you look, brands are coming out with crocodile and snakeskin bags, seemingly each a little more drool-worthy than the last.

Coach
Shopbop
Saks Fifth Ave
The Outnet