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It is Sample Sale Season again. One thing I have loved about living in NYC is the ability to literally walk down the street and find sample sale after sample sale when the season arrives. One of our favorite SS to attend is Rebecca Minkoff’s, not only because we love her bags but also because we get to host it with Rebecca herself.

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Last night’s episode of Real Housewives of Orange County was one of those slightly tedious midseason evening where not a whole lot happens except vicarious shame for everyone watching, or as Bethenny said on Watch What Happens Live, ain’t nothin’ going on but the rent. These ladies have to pay their bills (mostly because their husbands don’t work, at this point), and shows like this one are their bread and butter.

We saw plenty of bickering and snarking and behind-the-back talking, and then we nearly saw Alexis’ chacha a few times while she was photographed for her dress tags by a very beleaguered photographer. And then a fire alarm went off, perhaps symbolically telling us that we should all be evacuating this entire mess. But we won’t be evacuating, we’ll be recapping.

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When studs re-surged in the handbag world, we suddenly found the market to be over-flooded with studs. That look surely did not work for everyone nor did it have true staying power, but studs have not completely left our sight. I appreciate a little bit of studding, especially when it is done properly.

With the right amount of studs, Olivia Harris knocks this bag out of the park.

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To say that the Marchesa aesthetic is distinctive would be a massive understatement; season after season, the brand creates over-the-top, elaborately feminine evening wear and cocktail dresses that are as architecturally impressive as they are glitteringly ornate. Ruching, draping, beading, laser-cutting – not only might it all appear in one collection, but it might all appear in one dress. Marchesa’s handbags have a lot of visual splendor to live up to.

And mostly, they do a fine job of it. Marchesa’s Fall 2011 Handbags are exactly what you’d expect them to be, but with a few new shapes thrown in to expand on the brand’s first handbag outing. The exotics are of particular interest; I’d love to see Marchesa make day bags, and it looks as the the designers’ feel for crocodile may be pointing in that direction. Or maybe I’m just hoping that if I say it out loud, it’ll eventually come true.

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When I think of the Alexander Wang aesthetic up to this point, I always have a piece made of matte, slouchy black leather in mind. Not only has Wang made his accessories name with handbags that fit that description, but his clothing line can often be described with exactly the same words. For Alexander Wang’s Fall 2011 Handbags, though, the designer is mining the opposite end of the spectrum – the best designs from this collection are almost defiantly glossy and structured.

And those pieces are easily the best of the lot. I find myself growing a bit tired of the stud-bottomed Rocco and all of the auxiliary designs it spawned, even if fall’s calfhair and leather version is the best I’ve ever seen the design look, and the severe, mirror-patent bags provide a perfect antidote to that fatigue. The color palette and smart little metal-capped corners, first seen for Spring 2011, maintain continuity with Wang’s current work, but the results are a much-needed aesthetic refresher.

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One of our Twitter friends is @katespadeny, who we love to follow for a glimpse into the life of Kate Spade New York. Today while Vlad and I were out for our Sunday brunch, I was checking Twitter and saw Kate Spade tweet a photo of a new bag. With one click I found my way to the Kate Spade Pocomo Gwen, a small cowhide bag with a camera embossed image, and I fell for the design and immediately went to the Kate Spade store to buy it.

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I finally got my wish on last night’s episode of Real Housewives of New York: Jill returned from the land down under and the episode was marginally better for it. Mostly it was the Sonja show yet again, though, which probably means that Sonja is smarter than she seems and found a way to finagle more camera time for herself since last season. And, well, she does a good job of it.

The episode was comprised of a series of awkward dinner and cocktail dates with one sales party wedged in for good measure. Oh, and Jill can’t be bothered to leash her dog, so it almost got devoured in Central Park. But whatever, more important things were at hand, namely the social order of the group. Thankfully, we had Sonja there to explain it to us.

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