Sorry, Derek Lam, I’m just not buying what you’re selling here. I know, I know – you’re trying to make a little niche for yourself among the scads of smaller high-end bag designers out there. And it can’t be an easy thing, because convincing people to spend a couple grand on a bag from a designer that doesn’t have much handbag cache is a bit of a challenge, to say the least. But that doesn’t excuse what we have here.

Derek Lam Elsa Python Clutch

When you’re dealing with quirky, non-symmetrical designs, there’s a really thin line between one that works and one that doesn’t, and I don’t think that the Derek Lam Elsa Python Clutch does. The material and color are both beautiful, and some of the asymmetry is well-done, but beyond that, Lam totally loses me. The half-covered silver ring doesn’t appear to serve any kind of functional purpose at all, and things always go off the rails in handbag design when you start adding elements that would normally be functional that don’t serve any functional value. But I think that the final nail in this little clutch’s coffin is the enormous, luggage-like handle at the top. Not only is the material not the same as the rest of the clutch, but the style is also different. It’s traditional and staid while the clutch is edgy and hip, and on top of that, the proportion of the two doesn’t even work. Buy through Barney’s for $1450.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Merve

    For the first time im in disaccord with you Amanda. I think its sublime. The handle is a bit weird but it catches the tassle and seems to look very well structured. I really love it just shame about the price.

  • Baden

    I really like this interesting clutch!!! the color is a nice warm neutral and the material is used to best showcase its varied texture. I love the short stumpy tassel on the zipper pull and i think there is just enough hard wear with the exposed zip and half embedded ring to keep it current for this seasons trends but will have some longevity due to the juxtaposed classic top handle. I think this clutch is well thought and refined, modern with classic detailing and craftsman ship! Well Done Derek Lam!

  • papertiger

    Sorry Mr Lam I think I’ll pass

    even the tassel looks ‘stunted’


    it’s funny because i agree with everything you’re saying, but i still find the overall design appealing!

  • I forgot to mention the tassel – I actually really like the little tassel. Everything else, meh.

  • Mandy

    It’s a miss for me. No thanks. So far, I haven’t loved too many of DL’s bags. Too bad, because he’s an amazing designer.

  • gpc

    Kate Moss loves hers – there are numerous pics out there with her carrying it (the grey python version)! BagSnob girls loved it too. But, to each is own, I guess…

  • simone

    the ring keeps the flap down perhaps?

  • Miss.Sunshine

    I am sorry Amanda, you seemed judging the clutch based on the picture…. too bad what you wrote, felt many of you not from the design background ,and made certain comments on things you haven’t even seen in person…… too bad, you all been missing some good points in the design.
    – the half ring is belonging from the little flap, which there is this interesting “L” shape cut self pocket, with a very difficult technique sewed in the hidden gussets. It is very thoughtful, yet very understated….
    – I owned one, thats why I did a little study on them…. not in python, in a soft nappa leather, I really love it!!!
    – So does Candy Pratt Price….. which she carried it at the Met Ball party while back….. kate Moss saw it and took it from Candy….. ever since she carries to everywhere….. sorry Amanda, there are reason why she is still have it around her…… Your review was a little hash I thought….. dont blame you, but please do more research before write up some horrible comments, not fair to people putting hard work behind it . XX

  • Jul Bug

    I think it a cute little clutch and the handle seems to serve a purpose so you can hold it in a different way.

    I got one of the regular leather clutches at his new store in NYC and it was about half the price of the python.

    To each his (her) own guess

  • chloehandbags

    I really think people here have to feel free to say what they think, without fear of being confronted on it, otherwise what’s the point in critiquing/discussing bags at all, if we’re all just going to say; ‘Oh, I love it!’ about everything, all the time?

    I’ve had bags of mine negatively, or neutrally, critiqued on here, in the past and I’ve got over it! :D

    Admittedly, I wouldn’t normally comment negatively on the same thread that someone has already admitted to owning the bag in question on, but this time I will as I think Amanda (who I often don’t agree with, BTW, LOL!) needs some support, as she has been, wrongly IMO, accused of being harsh, which I think is pretty unfair.

    Personally, I have to agree with Amanda this time and TBTH, I don’t really care whether the ring has a purpose, or not, or how difficult the technique to attach the pocket was (a lot of things are difficult to do – it doesn’t, necessarily, mean they’re a great idea), as I find its use here visually unappealing and I feel the same way about the style and material of the handle as, IMO, it is mismatched with the style and material of the clutch; rather than just, interestingly, juxtaposed.

    I imagine it looks much better in the nappa, though; mainly because it wouldn’t be as obvious. :)

    I also don’t really care who carries it…

    On a positive note, I really do like the design of the rest of the clutch very much (including the cute little tassel!) as it’s very much my style and without the ring and the handle I’d be very tempted by the nappa version. :D

  • Naggy

    This is poorly executed for the asymmetry look.

  • Naggy

    This is poorly executed for the asymmetry look; I think it needs more vision. (ipad)