Thursday, August 16, 2007

The cult of the designer handbag

I would rather tote my belongings in a paper bag than carry a logo splattered handbag or purse. I think they are vulgar, a blatant triumph of aspirational bad taste over common sense. My general rule is: you want me to wear your advertising, then you pay me. I'm a fan of stealth bags: those that are unrecognisable to 99% of women. I want to look chic, intelligent, thoughtful, with my clothes & accessories whispering not screaming.(There's nothing clever or inspired about walking into Gucci or Vuitton to buy a bag that every fashion climber or WAG wants to carry). The only possible exception is a bag from Hermes for reasons so obvious that I don't need to spell them out to you, my fashion literate readership.

Designer bags I do think cut the mustard include Bottega, Michael Teperson, Pierre Hardy & Janet Collin. (I must admit to owning bags from all four). They are beautifully designed and, above all, different from the run of the mill. But I also love my black calf, no label, slouch bag with huge tassels ($70) from Century 21 and my huge rectangular attaché bag in brown saddle leather from All Saints which I use for my laptop.(Press gift but think retail was about £150).

But although I am the first to decry the up-pricing prevalent in the luxury accessories market (we are asked to pay what the houses think we will pay to satisfy our acquisitive, venal natures, not what the goods are worth by any stretch of the imagination), it doesn't stop me from occasionally admiring a beautiful piece of design.

So, here I give you the Smythson Nancy in Taupe for Autumn Winter 07. The collecion comprises three bag designs, all handmade in a luxuriously soft calf leather, with an elegant vintage leather covered clasp, a framed opening, luxurious mauve satin lining and innovative hand pleating. It also comes in dark brown and black and a limited edition white in Los Angeles only.

The three bags, shoulder bag,smaller version and a clutch purse, and have been designed with practical, generous internal pockets allowing one to keep contents organized. The large Nancy is spacious enough to hold everything one could possibly need. However it is an eye-wincing £950... a price that is almost impossible to justify. Although, with luck, it is too subtle to appeal to the flash set, and therefore may be a good under the radar buy.