When Valentino first introduced us to its line of studded ladylike bags at the Spring 2011 shows back in September, I was…hesitant, to say the least. In the intervening months, I’ve remained hesitant, but the Valentino Rock Stud Top Handle has become the first of Valentino’s Spring 2011 bags to gain my approval.

The design belongs to a subgenre of bags diplomatically referred to as “Kelly alternatives,” and the limited studding around the trim calls to mind another Hermes classic – the Collier de Chien cuff. Of all the punk-traditional mashups that Valentino produced for the season, this one is the most subtle and the most successful.

Part of my newfound appreciation for this design can be credited to seeing it in action on Gossip Girl; the sight of a bag being carried always helps to clarify things, and it looked sharp and extremely well-tailored on the arm of whoever had it. (Lily? Blair? I don’t remember.) I prefer this design over the others in the collection because not only are the studs subtle and very limited, but most of them are completely removable via the optional shoulder strap. Studs still feel like old news, but in this context, I would carry them today. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $1995.

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