VBH Brera Croc-Quilted Handbag, $3650 via Neiman Marcus

It’s been a hard day of economic realities and art criticism around here, so why not ease into the afternoon with something obviously beautiful like the VBH Brera Croc Quilted Handbag? You know you want to.

VBH require a viewing in person if possible, because they’re gorgeous in a way similar to that of Hermes bags – it’s hard to capture it accurately in a stock photo. Because I’m close to the flagship Barneys in New York, I’ve gotten a chance to play with a few of the brand’s limited edition crocodile Brera bags, including a sublime ivory version, but this is the one that I’m digging the most right now; the fact that it doesn’t approach real croc’s five-figure price tag is just a bonus.

I much prefer quilted faux croc to the stamped or embossed alternative for a few reasons. First and foremost, it doesn’t look exactly like the real thing, but instead it stands out as an interesting artistic approximation. Faux exotics will always fail at being a perfect copy of regular exotics, so choosing an attractive method that doesn’t aim for exact visual replication is a smart move. This quilting shows how much precise work goes into this kind of bag and it adds a ton of texture, but it doesn’t make the design any less neutral or significantly more expensive than plain black leather. To me, that sounds like victory all around. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $3650.

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