I was talking to my friend Tanya the other day about her next handbag purchase, and the subject of patent vs. regular leather came up. Patent’s having a huge moment right now, with everyone from 3.1 Phillip Lim to Chloe remaking some of their most successful designs in the stiff, glossy material, but the look isn’t for everyone or every design, no matter how hard brands try to make us think it is. The perfect example: The Chloe Madeline Satchel.

Don’t get me wrong, I often like patent and the material itself has several advantages. First, it holds its shape better than many types of regular leather. Second, it does much better in inclement weather because of its smooth, shiny finish. And of course, it offers a level of polish to certain types of bags (usually petite and very structured) that regular leather can’t quite attain. Sometimes, though, a more matte and casual look just works out better.

I’ve loved Madeline bags since Chloe introduced them, but my gut reaction to the patent version can best be described as, “Huh. I don’t know about that.” I love the shade of aqua that Chloe used, but I’d love it so much more if the leather were the matte, soft, insanely luxurious stuff that the company has used on the bags in the past. Patent can be fun in certain situations, but when buying a high-end bag, I’ll always prefer the alternative. How about you?

Buy the Chloe Madeline via Net-a-Porter for $2395 in patent and $2130 in regular leather.

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