Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Trend Watch: Bold Bright Bags

Like a ray of sunshine, vibrant handbags are back this spring, and many celebrities are making big style statements by pairing these shockingly vivid bags against a simple, monochromatic look. “My favorite bag is the new Marc Jacobs bright yellow bag, because it’s fun and cheerful,” says Rachel Bilson. Nicole Richie is also a fan of this hot MJ bag, and she smartly paired it with a chic little black dress at the MJ fashion show in New York. Designers like Jacobs and Luella Bartley are featuring crayon-colored bags that look super stylish against spring’s hottest neutral colors, like white, black, and tan. To capture the look, keep it balanced: “Pair any small or big handbag in a strong, bold color with a simple, contrasting color-neutral outfit. Don’t over-accessorize. Less is definitely more,” says celebrity stylist Nicole Chavez.


Put a Patent on It

B. Fendi Patent Leather Large Satchel

B. Fendi Patent Leather Medium Bag with Gold Trim and Pearls

Versace Embossed & Patent Leather Tote

Go for high gloss where lux meets sleek
Fashion a fascinating shape and make it look chic
Lustrous for a lady of every taste or age
Patent leather is again style’s latest rage!

Seek a sensational satchel a tote or a clutch
Make it shiny all over or give it just a touch
Go for gleaming in red, black or blue
Perhaps you should patent in any old hue

So polish that look with something sheen
You’ll be glittering about to the point of pristine!


Patented Perfection

Shiny, new things are all the rage during the holiday season, and there’s no better choice than patent leather. While we don’t think this trend will last – it really does look better on shores and even belts – here are some options for you glitterati lovers.

Cynthia Rowley’s Cecilla red patent leather tote with stud details.

Rafe's Conduit Shoulder Bag in teal Italian patent leather with antique brass hardware.

Goldenbeu’s Katie clutch in woven navy patent leather with gold hardware.


The SUV of Bags

You think the Muse or the Chanel trash bag is ridiculously big? Well then you haven't seen the Grande Louis Vuitton Suhali tote. This is not only 19" x 14.3", it is also goat skin so you can just imagine how heavy it is. At first I thought this was some sort of luggage but oh no, it is a regular bag. I mean, say you do need a bag this size for all your stuff, the problem is once you fill it how do you pick it up? I tried picking it up empty (except for the tissue stuffing) and my shoulders immediately started shouting obscenities at me. Seriously, this bag is the size of my refrigerator door. At eLuxury for $3200.


We Need To Stop Making Fun Of Him

Marc Jacobs had a premonition dream that we'd all forget his name so he decided to emblazon his name in gold bedazzles on quilted nylon, no less, so that his work can be seared into our minds forever. Someone had commented that the shopping bag looked like a Lancome gift with purchase but NOOOO! THIS is more like a cheesy gift with purchase. I know we're totally on his case but this just can't be ignored. Tote is $695, satchel $675 at eLuxury.


Topshop's washed four zip holdall

This may look like that lovely, aged leather I'm always warbling on about, but it's actually just good ol' pleather, which I guess explains the £35 price tag. The four zips of the name are found at each end, on the top, and on the little zippered compartment on the flap, so there's ample storage for all your essentials here, and it looks pretty good too, in a "This old thing? Oh, I've had this forever!" kind of way.


Funny thing. I ran across the above article this afternoon, while this morning I pulled out what I consider my most "luxe" bag and was startled at the similarities. Guess she and I have our head in the same place. My version, though, is Jones NY and the softest leather I have ever had in a purse. So soft, that sometimes I am too afraid to carry it. What if I scratch it? I have since learned to love it and forget my fear and it is softening into the most amazing bag I have. A rare, straight retail purchase from me, direct from Macy's, I spent the unheard of amount of $150 (my mental budget is usually 1/3 of that). But, now? This old thing? I've had this forever! :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Meli Melo London Bag

Meli Melo's limited edition bag is creating quite a stir in London. It is a pink metallic tote lined with printed phone numbers for important hot spots around town, like spas, restaurants, salons and even the dry cleaner. We love this idea! Wouldn't it be great if you could customized it with your own set of must have numbers? But they are coming out with Paris, New York and Milan editions soon. Margherita Missoni, Anna Wintour, Sienna Miller, and Elizabeth Saltzman (editor of Vanity Fair) have all been seen using it, although I can't totally picture Anna Wintour with this bag. The concept is great but the bag itself is just a giant utilitarian tote and although we love pink and we love metallic, this combo just somehow seems a little much. £450 (approximately $885 USD) by special order through Meli Melo.


Dead Cat Bag Makes #70 on The Bag Lady's Top 100 Bags of 2006

Yet again you're very lucky today, we're featuring another three bags in our Top Bags of 2006 list. This 'dead cat' bag provoked a lot of comments when we wrote about it March, some loathed it, but others, like myself, loved it. For some more bags - yes, more tasteful this time, check out the list.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ouch! My Bag Is Killing Me!

When Genevieve Roth decided to train for the New York City Marathon for the first time this year, she called Amy Youner, a physical therapist at SportsCare, a rehabilitation clinic in Manhattan.

During their first appointment, Ms. Youner spotted Ms. Roth’s enormous Sigerson Morrison handbag and refused to work with her unless she stopped carrying it. The bag, Ms. Youner said, would put stress on Ms. Roth’s shoulders and back, and could cause injury.

Ms. Roth, a 26-year-old editor at Details magazine, felt torn. On the one hand, she had heard that Ms. Youner was one of the best therapists in the city. On the other hand, she really loved that bag.

“Amy eventually agreed to keep seeing me, but it became a constant battle,” Ms. Roth said. “Sometimes I’d drop my bag off at work before my morning appointment with her, so she wouldn’t know I was still using it.”

In the last few years, bags have become ever more voluminous, and as women have fallen sway to their chunky charms, they have filled them up with necessities. These days many women are as burdened as mail carriers.

As a result, reports of shoulder soreness and stiff necks are on the rise and doctors, massage therapists and chiropractors are tailoring treatments for the bag-obsessed.

“In the last year or so, I’ve been seeing the same kinds of issues with adult women that I’m used to seeing with kids who carry heavy backpacks on one shoulder,” said Karen Erickson, a chiropractor who has a private practice on the Upper West Side, and also serves as a spokeswoman for the American Chiropractic Association. “They’re experiencing neck pain — not just while they’re carrying their purses, but all the time. A lot of women even get bad headaches.”

“Lately, when a patient comes in complaining of these symptoms, I walk over and pick up her purse,” she added. “Without fail, it weighs a ton.”

For the past several months, Robin Ehrlich, the director of the Eastside Massage Therapy Center on the Upper East Side, has observed clients old and new staggering under the weight of huge purses and griping about neck pain. “It’s an epidemic,” Ms. Ehrlich said. “We’re busier than ever before right now and big bags are the reason.”

A common side effect is that one shoulder becomes slightly higher than the other, she said. “A lot of women talk on their cellphones while they’re carrying these bags, which only intensifies the problem, because in addition to balancing too much weight on one side, they’re lifting the shoulder at the same time.”

Ms. Ehrlich recommends weekly massages for the pain. Gentle stretching and warm baths with Epsom salts can help bag abusers, too, she said. But she would never tell a client to ditch her Mulberry Elgin tote.

“It’s like telling a woman, ‘You cannot wear Manolo Blahniks,’ ” she said. “It’s just not realistic.”

On this point, the experts tend to agree. Marta Callotta, a chiropractor in Long Beach, Calif., said that she advises patients to clean out their purses once a week, and to use all the pockets so that the weight is dispensed evenly within the bag.

“At the end of the day, handbags are one of the biggest culprits for back pain right now,” she said. “For a year patients have been coming in to me with these giant purses and complaints of soreness. This will keep happening until the trend dies down.”

Robyn Fishelson, a spokeswoman for Bliss Spa, which has branches in London and five American cities, said that this year all locations are reporting an increase in massage clients with bag-induced back pain. To them, Bliss recommends its 75-minute deep tissue treatment at $150, which is an intense sports massage.

Dr. David Golden, an orthopedic surgeon who practices sports medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, Calif., said the effects of carrying a heavy purse are similar to those of exercising too strenuously. “The good news is, the pain will be temporary,” he said. “You usually need to carry 50 pounds or more to cause lasting back damage.”

Dr. Golden added, “As with an overly taxing workout, you can strain the muscles and induce joint pain if your bag is too heavy.” He recommended taking an anti-inflammatory, resting the injured muscles, and then starting over with a very light bag, “making sure you employ the correct form.” That means keeping the bulk of the purse toward the center of the body. The strap should rest close to the neck.

Who knew that fashion had so much in common with athletics? Perhaps this explains why loyal fans of outsize handbags tend to tick off their purse-induced woes like proud veterans of the football field.

“I’ve suffered major back, neck and shoulder pain from carrying heavy bags,” said Kimberly Whalen, 37, a literary agent in New York who recently bought the ubiquitous black Chanel carryall, which more than one fashion Web site has compared to a trash bag. “I’ve even had M.R.I.’s and cortisone treatments to help alleviate the problem.”

Sasha Charnin Morrison, 42, the fashion director at US Weekly, admitted that her bags are so large that she often gets stuck in revolving doors. “They may not be practical, but so what?” she said. “When it comes to fashion, being practical is a huge bore.”

For years, Ms. Charnin Morrison pointed out, women complained that designer bags were too small to hold anything. “Well, the designers are finally listening up,” she said. “If you go to Yves Saint Laurent or Prada or Tod’s or Chanel or Hermès this season, there are three different versions of the same bag: mini, regular and oversize.”

She said the last word as if she were describing seeing a unicorn — magical, beautiful, altogether perfect.

Ms. Charnin Morrison said she alternated between the Yves Saint Laurent Muse, the Miu Miu Coffer, the Chloé Paddington (notorious for its half-pound padlock) and the Chloé Gladys, which measures 16 by 17 by 6, and is, she said, “so heavy that some days I don’t think I’m going to make it to the end of the block.”

Dr. Erickson, the chiropractor in Manhattan, said there are ways to minimize the damage. Instead of always carrying a bag on the same side, women should switch back and forth. Because many women have a habit of unconsciously lifting the shoulder that has the purse on it to keep the straps from slipping, she suggests making an effort to square your shoulders. Or carry the bag in front of you. “It’s not exactly glamorous, but if at the end of a long day you find your shoulders aching, slip the bag off and carry it in front of your body with both arms like it’s an infant,” she said.

The American Chiropractic Association recommends that a handbag weigh no more than 10 percent of its owner’s body weight. Given that so many slim women seem to be in violation of this guide, it raises the question: What exactly are they carrying in there?

“The bigger the bag, the more I seem to need to bring with me,” said Gloria Dawson, a 25-year-old photo editor in New York. “I carry an iPod, a book, a backup magazine in case the book doesn’t go over well, makeup, a phone, my wallet, extra shoes and workout clothes, most of which I won’t even need, but it’s nice to know that it’s there.”

Chloe Thompson, 24, is used to the back pain caused by carrying big bags, but she suffered a different kind of sting in July, when her Lucky Brand slouch bag was stolen during a reunion at Brown University. “I had over $2,000 worth of stuff in that bag,” said Ms. Thompson, who works in retail analysis for Cynthia Vincent, a fashion company in New York, “my iPod, digital camera, cellphone, glasses, sunglasses, makeup kit and a ton of other belongings, including a Care Bear that I’ve had since I was born.”

Because she lost so much property, Ms. Thompson found that the theft was actually covered by her homeowner’s insurance. But before she could collect any money, she had to convince the insurance adjuster that it was possible to fit everything into a single bag.

“The woman was shocked that I could cram so much into a purse,” she recalled. “I had to explain to her that this was no ordinary-size handbag.”


Want To Shop Like the Stars but Words Fail You?

Like, it's a bag, like Mischa Barton's.

If words fail when it comes to specifying the exact attributes of the handbag, watch, shoes, or jewelry of the celebrity you most want to imitate, you might have some joy with

Munjal Shah, CEO and co-founder of Like's parent company, Riya, hopes his new Web site will spark an online shopping revolution as fashionistas stampede for its new visual -- not verbal -- search engine.

Launching just in time for Christmas in the high-margin accessories market, the site differs from most celeb-led Web-shopping options by letting users search by appearance rather than by keyword or tag.

"We believed the way to innovate was to look inside the photograph," Shah told Reuters by telephone.

If, for instance, you like the pointy toe of Brad Pitt's boot, or Kate Moss's teardrop earrings, the site prompts you to emphasize shapes, colors or patterns you like to find similar versions elsewhere on the Web.

"The introduction of a new search engine does not ordinarily elicit the same oooh's and aaah's as the introduction of the new Prada collection, but this is unlike any search engine we've ever seen," enthused the blog at women's Web-shopping site

"Now we don't even have to be able to read and write, to be able to shop," it says. "Text searches are so last season."

The promise of matching a look by pointing at it has generated huge publicity for the site, which launched November 8 despite not being technologically ripe. It is in its "Alpha" version, which usually marks a project being tested in-house.

Riya, which spawned Life, offers a photo-matching face-recognition service which has been difficult to turn into cash, but Shah said Like is already generating commission revenue.


So far the site seems to be attracting geeks keen to try the technology as well as women. Shah also sees a market in men needing to buy accessories for wives and girlfriends.

But chic clickers will need patience before brings them close to many of the objects of their desire.

So far, it only links to U.S.-based shopping sites and users can only match accessories to pictures in the site's own library. Only 16 celebrities feature in its gallery, although it is possible to search for others.

"The real test will be when you'll be able to upload images of your own and do searches," wrote Danny Sullivan in a blog at

Shoppers should be able to put their own pictures into the system's search engine from January, Shah said, adding that the site is also poised to add around 100,000 celebrity pictures.

Tediously for shoppers who want it now, the site's search engine uses a lot of maths and a lot of computing power as each element of a picture is converted into a "visual signature." The processing power involved has, Shah says, put many people off attempting visual search.

To illustrate, he cites color. Riya's technology experts thought needed to encode 10 basic colors, but marketing disagreed and to prove it women in the team came up with 29 different shades of blue in two minutes.

So far, at least one fashion victim has been disappointed. Blogger Cristina, writing a new diary at, tried to match a pair of strappy shoes -- but the site's offering included workboots.

"What?! Workboots? Workboots?! I mean, come on!" she wrote. "If the site doesn't return relevant results what use is it to people like me and my readers?"

Shah said she had used the site when its technology was very raw, and the latest of regular upgrades should have fixed that. He said he chose to move fast with the launch to speed up the learning process.

"You learn slower than if you just accept the criticism," he said. "And there really is nothing like it."


The Votes Are In and the Verdict Is.....Hate It!

Both and have ringingly UNendorsed this monstrosity from LV:

Bag Snob:
This to me is comedic genius. What can you possibly wear with this without looking like you just fell on top of a harp seal? Look how big it is! It is 18" x 10"! It is mink with python trim, all good things, until you add crayola colored LV monograms to it and make it into a fanny pack. What a total waste of resources. I usually am not a Peta advocate but all I can think is, the poor little minks who started off so cute gave their lives for the sake of this fashion atrocity! So I guess it is not funny afterall. It's like, it's ok to eat meat cuz it's yummy but if you're going to ruin lamb chops with a jellybean and banana chutney, I'd rather just have a salad.

Bag Lady:
You know, I'm not sure I can even find the words for this offering from Louis Vuitton, which is proudly occupying the Ugly Accessory of the Week slot today. Three things do spring to mind, though: 1. It's a bum bag/fanny pack (snigger!)/whatever you want to call it 2. It's covered in logos and 3. It's made of real fur - mink, to be exact. Oh, and 4: it's ugly. Enough said, I think...

Source: and

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cult of the It Bag

What a carry on
How much would you pay for a designer handbag? £300? £600? £11,000? Somehow the goalposts have shifted so that no-one bats an eye at a bag that costs as much as a weekend in New York, but the fact is, the cult of the 'It Bag' means what you choose to carry is big business. Where 5-10 years ago you'd think long and hard before investing £300 in something as frivolous as a handbag, now the average price of an 'It Bag' is more like £600. And the £11,000 bag? That's the so-exclusive-it-doesn't-even-see-the-salesfloor limited edition Fendi B from Harrods' By Appointment only personal shopping service.

Because it's worth it
House of Fraser explains, "A great handbag works with many outfits so the price per wear starts to look very affordable. Plus, you don't need to worry about squeezing into it, it looks fabulous on every size." The tipping point of the It Bag phenomenon dates back to Why are we prepared to pay so much? Nicola Sugden, handbag buyer for Mulberry's Giselle, a canny collaboration with London designer Luella Bartley whose cool credentials lent instant cachet to the brand. As Sugden puts it, the combination of luxury label, stylish design and media frenzy adds up to a must-have bag that will be obtained at any price. The high cost in itself defines a strong level of aspiration.

She's gotta have it
There's no question women have an emotional attachment to fashion - we honestly believe a new bag might change our life. The latest clutch of roomy, pocket-laden bags are so functional it's easy to feel that they really do make life easier (mmm, and they look so gorgeous too). If you want the bag badly enough you'll convince yourself it's worth it. And don't disregard the power of the media. However immune we think we are, it's easy to get sucked into must-have mentality with every new label that hits the stores. Take Stella McCartney's recently unveiled bag range. It's not even leather yet these high fashion tote bags are certain to sell out despite their £700 price tags. Or look at the impact It bags have on the stars - Nicole absolutely adores the Balenciaga Lariat bag, confessing that she has it in five colours, whilst Alex Curran prompted a cacophony of complaints to the buyers at Harvey Nichols from the WAGs in Baden-Baden when she was the first to be photographed with the latest £2,400 Chloé Python tote.

Buy it now!
So what should you look for if you fancy an It Bag but are scared of the commitment?

  • Go for a roomy size like a Fendi Spy. It's more practical so you'll use it more.
  • Invest in a style that's been around forever. A Birkin by Hermes ( if you can get your hands on one), or the Chanel 2.55/ Classic is beyond fashion and you can even resell at a later stage should you want to release the equity.
  • Choose a neutral colour for the same sensible reasons as above. Neutrals go with everything and don't date like bright pinks or greens

The Fendi Bag Lady

Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, star of the hit show Sex and the City, explains that she has no money and is in fear of losing her home. She exclaims, “I'm homeless! I'll be a bag lady! A Fendi bag lady, but a bag lady!!” This is one of my most beloved quotes, that I keep near and dear to my heart.

For fear that those words might become a reality to me; I have started a small savings account entitled, “Do not spend on bags.” Paying full price is not something I am prepared to do all the time. My latest purchase included the words “Marc Jacobs” and “on sale.” As an Internet savvy person, I am always getting mail telling me about sales and discounts, and this one was for shoes! I ventured into the city that lives and breathes fashion, New York. On the shelves of tossed up shoes were my latest conquest. There they were Marc Jacobs lace-up, taupe colored espadrilles with coordinating colored ribbon to lace-up the leg. Calling my name from the second I tried them on, the $250 price tag that was marked down to $125, I got them for $99 with no tax, need I say more?

There are many theories of how and where fashion comes from; for me, I use every resource possible to keep up on the latest trends and styles, which in turn, influence, what I will be wearing each day. Fashion publications are huge: Vogue, Vanity Fair and Glamour are all major players in key looks and pieces for each season. Obviously as a college student, I do not have the budget to afford the classic couture looks, but I find a way to make my own and at my own price. I make what I call a “fashion scrapbook.” I tear looks from magazines that I find irresistible and use them when I am shopping for focus. It’s a great way to only buy things you need and to get those hot trendy looks for a fraction of the price. Style I feel is not only a look, but also the attitude in which you carry yourself. If you are confident in what you wear, no matter where you buy it or what it is: if it’s shorts, sweats, or a women’s collared Polo, you have style.

“People watching” is another one of my style influences. Going to school in Manhattan has definitely given me an advantage to see street fashion, turn into runway fashion. In fall 2006, we see 80’s flashback: leggings, long tunics, and big hair. A true people watcher, or lucky resident of SoHo, could have told you this last spring!

Bonjour! Merci! and most importantly, where can I go shopping for exquisite vintage fashions? While attending ModSpe’, a Fashion school in Paris, backed by the French Federation of Woman’s Ready to Wear, I knew that shopping was going to play a major part in my educational “vacation.” At a small consignment shop, I found what would be later known as “The Bag.” Made in Paris, a crème-cotton, vintage Hermes shopper! Not only was it my first Hermes purchase, but also the coincidence that the bag actually says “Paris” on it, how perfect. Hermes Sellier Paris is done is black stencil writing on the front flap, it has silver snaps, and a tanned leather strap for closing. The bag still smells of Dior perfume, and went with me everywhere in my travels through Paris. No matter how many new bags I get, whether it be a new snakeskin Gucci, or a trendy rhinestone Dior, my Hermes shopper will always my most coveted handbag.


The Hot Betty Bag

This past summer I traveled to Paris and stumbled into the Marc Jacobs store. I have always loved his bags because of their classic shapes, the unique colors, and his use of hardware. I had saved for something special to buy when I was in Paris and of course I thought of buying a bag. I walked in and my eyes went directly to a satchel bag that was quilted black leather with gold hardware. I made eye contact with the bag; I studied its lines and shape. The leather looked like butter and when I touched it, it was softer then I expected. I held it on my arm and walked over to the mirror. I compared my body proportion with the bag’s proportions; we matched. I pictured the bag with different outfits and the much use I would get out of this bag. The bag was calling me; I knew I had to have it. There was no way I was leaving that bag in Paris. So the bag and I made the 8-hour flight home together and we have been happy ever since. That was the latest purchase I made.

My style is influenced by my desire to be understated, elegant, preppy, and chic all at the same time. Ralph Lauren influences me because of his use of vibrant colors and classic shapes to create a look that is both preppy and elegant. I find influences all over the place and they are always changing with the season. This fall sweaters and turtlenecks are influencing me. Also by the use of black, brown, and navy blue that is popping up in all the stores is very influential picking pieces for my wardrobe.

I covet all of my bags, but one in particular is my vintage Louis Vuitton "Speedy" bag that was given to me by my grandma. She had purchased it on one of her many trips to Europe when she was younger. A few years ago I was looking through her closet and I stumbled across it. I took it out and showed her what I had found. She told me of when she went to Italy and purchased that bag in the late 1970’s. She surprised me when she said that I could have it. The Louis Vuitton Speedy bag that my grandmother gave me is more than a bag to me; it is a symbol of my grandmother. Every time I use it I am reminded of her and what she taught me. The bag has aged beautifully with the leather becoming softer and darker. The hard ware has become tarnished, but I don’t care about any of that. To me all those things just give the bag character, and my grandmother is a character.


Birkin from Queens

Many women all agree upon one thing - that all their handbags are diverse; small, large, day-wear, night-wear, work bags, sports bags, etc. I could say that the handbags that I own are very different as well. I was influenced on purchasing one of my most recent handbags because I was heading in a new direction in my life. There are women who obsess over handbags, as I can agree I am one of them. There are those women who buy based on a pure admiration for a handbag design, while others purchase handbags because they are in need for a change; they're heading in a new direction, and are in need of something more versatile for this purpose.

In my case, the direction I was heading in was something completely major and life changing - college. When you head off to college, you think about changing your image to something more simple, yet stylish and convenient- especially when you go to school in the big city of Manhattan. Living in Queens, I have been to Manhattan on many occasions and I know that when you travel to Manhattan for the day you are in need of a handbag that suits your personality. However, when going to college you need something stylish that will fit the many belongings that you need to carry with you on a daily basis. After going to stores in Long Island, Manhattan, and Queens I decided that for the beginning of school I would purchase a Longchamp bag. Not only do these bags serve the purpose of being spacious and have the ability to hold heavy things, but they seem to not get ruined when weather conditions arise (such as unexpected rain.) Longchamp is known for making their bags spacious, simple, and in many colors. They also have an online boutique that lets you customize one of their most popular handbags, "les pliages," in any two colors that you want, engraving of your initials, and the kind of metal hardware that you want. In the weeks that followed my purchase I was glad on the decision that I had made because I was able to comfortably adapt to carrying many things at once.

Like I've said, all the handbags I own are diverse, but have one thing in common- my personal style is in all of them. My general style that I admire is not only designer handbags, but something that appeals to me and will flatter what I'm wearing and my figure, but won't empty my wallet. My style is mostly influenced from magazine ads, not the trend of the moment. When I view a magazine ad, I don't just look at a picture and say, "I like how this bag looks in the ad and how it looks on the model, I want to buy it". However, I look at the details of the handbag independently and I ask myself, "Is this something I would wear more than once, will the bag be unique that not everyone owns it, and do I absolutely love it so much that I have to have it?"

Before I buy a bag on impulse, it's important to ask myself those questions as well as, "Will this bag serve its purpose?" I have handbags from very different designers and companies; from LV to Express, Dior, Gucci, Coach, BCBG, Longchamp, Guess, and probably more in the future. One bag I dream of owning (as I imagine everyone else would) is the Hermes Birkin bag. I most covet this bag because it exemplifies my style. If I owned this bag it wouldn't just be because many important people have it and it's expensive. However, owning this bag would flatter my figure, it would be of a big size, and would most importantly be unique. There is an insane waiting list just to receive the bag, and if that's not enough of a wait, the wait is even longer to accumulate your money to even purchase the bag for the average person. The bag sells for at least $10,000 and is well known among celebrities such as, actors, singers, and especially models. Many of the star tracks in People Magazine show stars carrying the bag wearing slim flitting clothing which isn't of proportion, however the slim fitting clothing flatters the bag.

Whichever hand bag consumers purchase, or wish of purchasing should be something that they make their own. You shouldn't just flip open any Coach or Macy's catalog and buy something you see just because it's in style at the moment. Most importantly, the bag that you choose to buy should be something that you can apply to your life and lifestyle. Also, before you make a purchase you should shop around, get the best price, and make sure you don't regret your purchase when you get the bag home. Shopping can be a fun, enjoyable experience if you can search for your own style, make purchases that flatter your style, and most importantly - be yourself!


Get Her Look - Ashlee Simpson's Louis Vuitton 'Manhattan GM'

Louis Vuitton have been producing some "interesting" designs lately for our delectation, but sometimes a starlet just wants some classic monogram to satisfy her designer hunger. Ashlee Simpson has been spotted out and about with her latest love, 'Manhattan GM', which is apparently infused with the 'urban-feminine style' characteristic of designer-extraordinaire Marc Jacobs. Hailed as the latest 'must-have' from Louis Vuitton, it too can be yours for $1870 from eLuxury.


Friday, December 01, 2006 Discount Designer Purses Gives the Gift of Savings 'til Year End

In the spirit of the holiday season, features additional discounts on its huge selection of designer handbags and accessories.

Starting today through December 31st will feature additional markdowns of 10-30% on select designers and free shipping on $100 purchases. With the additional designer handbags and purses markdowns, shoppers can receive up to 90% off their favorite designer brands, including Juicy Couture, Coach, Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Celine, Chloe, Tods, Burberry, Kate Spade, Furla, Diesel, Tano, Latico, and hundreds more of 100% authentic designer handbags and accessories.

"We have a Holiday Sale Plan posted on the website plus we'll be running unadvertised specials for our private email list members. Currently, we are running an additional 25% off all Yves Saint Laurent designer fashion accessories, and tomorrow our additional 15% off the 'Sale Section' begins," said Anna Miller, owner and operator. "We wanted to live up to our reputation as People magazine's 'Best of the Web' for discount designer handbags and purses. So, we're passing on as much savings as possible to our shoppers for their holiday purchases."

The following is a list of some of the Holiday Specials shoppers can look forward to at

• Extra 15% off Sale Section
• Extra 10% off the Entire Site
• Extra 15% off Cold Weather Accessories
• Extra 10% off Gucci, Prada and Fendi
• Extra 20% off Entire Site
• Extra 30% off Clearance Section

To take advantage of the current and future sales, shoppers can visit and click on the Daily Discounts link. Plus, shoppers are encouraged to register for "Free Gift News," which allows email sale notifications and the corresponding coupon codes to be delivered to their in-boxes.

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Anna Miller is the President of, Inc. She operates the website and sells high-end authentic designer handbags and accessories at off-retail prices. was named BEST OF THE WEB by People Magazine Fall 2006 StyleWatch for Discount Designer Handbags and Purses. should not be confused with any other website selling a similar product or using a similar name. is the home of five fashion ecommerce stores: BrandsBoutique, LuxuryVintage, DesignersLA, ItalysOutlet, and ValueBags. Anna is considered an Internet Pioneer and has been reselling Designer Merchandise online since the early 90s.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Let's Chat....

in the new Bagaholics Anonymous forums. Just click the Visit Our Forums button to the upper right and let's start talking!

Hilary Duff

How did she just turn too cool for school overnight? Lady Duff can pull this off like the Marc Jacobs E/W Stam in black quilted leather just happened to be the first thing lying around on her big chair with the clothes she didn't hang up from the day before. (Oh wait, that is me - not her.) Fierce she looks but I have my eye on that bag.


Derek Lam named Creative Director for Tod's

We are thrilled to hear that Derek Lam has been promoted to Creative Director at Tod's. It is clear that Tod's has had a fresh direction of late and it is one that we have been loving. He has revitalized this legendary house by giving it back some much needed youth but still keeping in mind the impeccable feel that is Tod's. Our only concern is that he tends to be a little embellishment happy in his bags but let's just hope that that is something he strickly keeps for his eponymous line. We obviously love the Bensonville so we are not too concerned. So how did he get here? He graduated from Parsons and went to work for Michael Kors for 12 years. We see that Kors has not recovered from this loss. He started his own line in 2002 and in 2004 won the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award for new designers and won the CFDA Perry Ellis Swarovski Award in 2005. Certainly with this resume he can get a job anywhere but we feel Tod's is the perfect fit for Derek with his flirty girly designs and we cannot wait to see what he has in store for us now that he has total control and power!!


PVC by Marc Jacobs

I predict the next step for Marc Jacobs is licensing his name to Sears for a line of polyester elastic waist band pants in mousy colors. At least that's what it feels like the direction is going based on this crap. First we saw his leather shopper, which was gross but could have been construed as humorous. But this!!?? It is black PVC, otherwise called plastic, with contrasting top stitching to make it look even cheaper and to top it all off, shiny gold hardware. It is a plastic tote with no design behind it (Vivienne Tam did fiberglass fabric bags that were well designed and super chic). I am offended that Marc thinks we are all so stupid as to follow whatever he puts out the way his celebrity pack dogs do. By the way, this bag is $1400 at Neiman Marcus.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Out of the Box reports on the most wanted spring accessories. Click here to go to the interactive slide show. Some of my favorites:


Bag Ladies

At first glance, you might think these women are carrying trash bags. Well, they’re not. It’s the latest Chanel plastic carryall, about $1,000, with chain handles and a signature double-C charm. A few are in leather, and, one, below, is a rare satin one. The bag, first spotted in Paris last month, above, is the superstatus bag carried by shoppers on Madison and Fifth Avenues. There is a waiting list of months to buy one.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bag – that which a girl can not live without; short for handbag; almost as essential as oxygen

Bag-a-licious – a handbag so hot it could only be called bag-a-licious; the combination of bag and delicious, because some bags are so good, they look delicious

Bagista – one who works at or is a loyal member of

Bagtionary™ – a bible for any bag lover; a dictionary with only bag terms – a fun fashion website devoted to all things handbags

Barrel bag – a bag shaped like a wooden log with a zipper closing and handles attached to the sides

Chanel 2.55 – made of quilted leather, this classic shoulder bag was designed by French couturiere Gabrielle Chanel in 1955. The distinct interlocking gold c’s and chain strap ooze class and sophistication.

Clutch – a bag that doesn’t have a handle and is held in the arm or clutched under the arm; typically worn in the evening, though lately it has been making appearances on the arms of chic starlets during the day hours

Doctor’s bag – a large bag with two handles that is shaped like a physicians bag. A great style for work.

Duffle bag – canvas bag with drawstring top that’s great for traveling because of its many compartments both inside and out.

Fanny pack – a pouch-like monstrosity that’s worn around the waist. Avoid at all cost unless you are 7-years-old!

Grommets – a reinforced eyelet through which something may pass. Often used to pitch a tent, but much more practical to use as a fashion embellishment

Handbag – a word that sounds like sweet music to our ears. The handbag has been around for centuries. However, it gained fame and became an accessory must in the roaring twenties thanks to stylish flapper girls.

Kelly bag – the Hermes bag, made famous by Grace Kelly in the 1950’s and then named after her. It has a rectangular shape and comes in a variety of colors and textures, though us girls at love the crocodile Kelly in chocolate. Some day, we hope to pool all our money and purchase a bag for community use.

Louis Vuitton Speedy – The doctor’s bag with the LV monogram pattern was created in 1959, though the shape itself was introduced in 1933. Always a classic, the Speedy can be seen on the arms of many starlets and chic women around town.

Manbag – a bag for men that usually comes with a shoulder strap or a wrist strap. The style gained popularity in the early 1970s.

Marc Jacobs – the king of handbags. Between his own lines, Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs, and his work at Louis Vuitton, Mr. Jacobs deserves a round of applause from all bagaholics. So we dedicate this spot on our bagtionary to him, the man who makes us save a months salary for a little piece of heaven.

Messenger Bag – A large bag with an envelope compartment that closes with a snap and has a flap over the front that clasps with a buckle. It's very comfortable and is surfacing as a big trend for Spring/Summer 2006.

Purse – another name for our favorite word, bag

Saddle bag – pair of soft leather bags joined to central strap handle

Safari bag / caravan bag – a double handled bag with a zippered closing and numerous pockets on the front and side

Satchel – a leather bag with a structured bottom and sides that slop upward. The handles tend to be rigid. These days, many bagaholics accessorize their satchels with of-the-minute charms.

Shoulder Bag - a large handbag that can be carried by a strap looped over the shoulder

Tote/Carryall – a large, utilitarian bag that can carry all your “in the bag” goodies; usually has inner zippers and two handles for easy carrying

Umbrella tote – a tote with a side pocket for an umbrella.

Wristlet – a clutch shaped bag that comes with an attached leather, bracelet-looking strap allowing you to hold your bag and dance freely.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Through Jacobs' Eyes

Handbags and modern art may not always go hand in hand but for Louis Vuitton’s Marc Jacobs, excitement always lies in the road less travelled.

NINE years ago, a certain Marc Jacobs was asked to be the creative boss of Louis Vuitton. He of the boyish charm and hair ever so casually mussed up. He wears clothes an average man would: T-shirts, sweaters, crisp white shirts.

Designers who shout rebellion play with stark looks or riotous colours. Think Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons and you get the picture. So you’d be forgiven — just by looking at Jacobs — if you thought him a conformist.

But consider this. A few years before Jacobs joined the French fashion house, he designed a grunge collection for Perry Ellis. The clothes were loathed (before they were loved, much later). Jacobs lost his job.

So... conventional? Hardly.

Jacobs is a lover of all things modern. Brazenly, he pairs loud modernism with Vuitton’s super-conventional, super classic print — the monogram.

He embossed the monogram on patent leather and weaved it on denim and satin.

The result could be a little shocking. But as you see these creations more frequently, you will slowly understand this notion of beauty — of old and new, convention and rebellion —that he tries to project.

He collaborated with Stephen Sprouse for the graffiti bags. Prim Vuitton users were appalled when paint-brush graffiti was sprawled across the bags. But youngsters were intrigued. Suddenly the traditional Louis Vuitton didn’t appear so old.

With Japanese artist Takashi Murakami came the vibrant prints with little eyes — or at least that’s what they look like — interspersed on multicolour monogram. And then the graphic cherry blossoms with yellow smileys in the centre.

And what about those little cherries in the Cerises collection that seem to have comical expressions?

By now the world has seen beauty through Jacobs’ eyes. And Louis Vuitton bags, while always classic, suddenly packed a little more attitude.

This year, Louis Vuitton takes the pairing of carriers and modern art to another level with the Icons exhibition at Espace Louis Vuitton in Paris. (I know we all cannot afford to fly to Europe for the show, so I’m “bringing” the exhibits to you.)

Here’s how it evolved. Nine “artists” were chosen by Louis Vuitton for the show, among them architects, artists and designers. Each was given the liberty to interpret the house’s nine iconic bags. (See sidebar)

Among those involved are Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid, the only woman who has won the Pritzker Prize (the architecture world’s Nobel counterpart, if you like) in 2004.

She is known for “intertwining supple forms and taut lines, acute angles and superposed planes”.

True to her daring approach, Zaha created several versions of a futuristic Bucket bag — twisted and deformed, rounded and sharp, that she grouped together in an archipelago.

Reminiscent of Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” (the one with melting clocks), Zaha’s re-imagination of the Bucket is like a white rounded vase, adorned with different facets of the monogram.

Another architect, Tokyo-based Shigeru Ban, is famous for his paper tube structures which allow him to escape technical constraints and structural tensions in favour of dynamic spaces.

Unsurprisingly, his take on the Papillon had him covering his paper tubes with monogram canvas.

Imagine 10 Papillons arranged vertically on their sides to make a pillar and maybe 15 more to form what looks like a bicycle tyre.

All this takes place at the Espace Louis Vuitton, a rotunda under which visitors can enjoy a bird’s eye view of Paris in its autumn shades.

Artist Bruno Peinado, meanwhile, is inspired by record sleeves, video games and comics.

He said there’s a pop dimension to his work because he reuses images found in magazines.

For his reinterpretation of Speedy, Louis Vuitton’s quintessential city bag, he decided to present forms cut with water jet from aluminium in white, black and green. The whole display evokes the myth of great journeys.

If there is such a thing as a literal reintrepretation among the exhibits, it has to come from artist Sylvie Fleury.

Known for her connection between art and society, Fleury takes certain “highly symbolic products” and reproduce them in sculpture form, mainly in chrome-finish bronze.

So she remade the Keepall, Louis Vuitton’s soft luggage. Under her hands, the cabin bag has embossed monogram in patent leather. The colour? Chrome-finish bronze.

You can almost see the bold stares of your fellow passengers at the departure hall as you walk by with your shiny bag. You don’t care. That attitude Louis Vuitton gives its bags? It has has rubbed off on you.


Carried Away

Earlier this year, something rather seismic happened in the world of retail. On a quiet street in west London, a boutique moved its front door. Tom Chapman, owner of the designer chain store Matches, decided that, after several years of the front door opening into the clothing department, it needed to be moved a crucial couple of yards to the left in order to open into the shoes, bags and sunglasses. A minor adjustment, certainly, but this architectural shift reflects and echoes one in the fashion industry: clothing is now the afterthought; it's bags and shoes that come first. "There's been a real shift to accessories for customers and so I realised that it was important for the customer to be confronted with a lovely big wall of shoes and bags as soon as they come in, like sweets in a jar," says Chapman. It's no surprise that he is so keen to celebrate his "lovely big wall": in just two years, his total profits from those sweets has doubled.

According to Mintel, the accessories business, particularly handbags, is the fastest growing sector of the luxury fashion market, "outperforming the other aspects of the market with ease". Claudia d'Arpizio, a partner at the consultancy Bain & Co Inc, was quoted on the Dow Jones newswires last month as saying that the leather goods market alone grew to €15.5bn (£10bn) last year, up from €11.9bn in 2001 and far exceeding growth in the overall luxury market.

The current trend for oversized bags, goggle-like sunglasses and clumping great wedges and boots reflects the way accessories have become the main focus. Next season's catwalks were filled with more of the same: bags decked with clanging chain handles, so large you could carry your child in them, owlish shades, and tottering wedges and platforms causing more than one Naomi Campbell-esque catwalk tumble. At the Louis Vuitton show, one of the bags was simply printed with images of other Vuitton bags, apparently the most aspirational image that designer Marc Jacobs could think of. A headline in the International Herald Tribune above a story reviewing Paris fashion week simply read: "Baubles, bangles and bags: Who cares about the clothes?"

There is now even a slew of websites in the US, including and, where people unwilling to pay £1,500 for a bag can hire one for an evening or so, reflecting the levels of desire handbags have acquired.

Cosmetics, in particular perfume, have long been seen as the oxygen that keeps the fashion industry afloat, mopping up the clothing sector's frequent heavy losses with its more commercial affordability. But although perfume is still a £15bn annual industry, it has become tainted with tacky duty-free associations and sales have been slowing dramatically: for the past two years the sector has grown only by about 3% worldwide, whereas the bags sector is predicted to grow at about 11% over the next five years. According to Cathy Horyn, fashion editor of the New York Times: "Accessories are absolutely the new perfume." Last month, Versace credited its accessories for pushing the company back into profitability after last year's losses.

Just 10 to 15 years ago, the words "designer handbag" were redolent of bouffanted stuffy Sloanes, clutching on to their Chanel quilted bags as they lunched at Le Caprice. Now, announcements heralding this season's It bags make front covers of fashion and gossip magazines, and news of which bag Kate Moss or Sienna Miller is carrying this season causes mass waiting lists. Ask a woman why she would shy away from spending £700 on, say, a Balenciaga jacket but will save up for a similarly priced Balenciaga bag and you get the same answers: you use shoes and bags more than a jacket, accessories don't make you feel fat, you don't have to bother with a changing room to try on accessories in a store, they go with everything and dress up everything.

"I can buy clothes for work, parties and weekends on the high street, which is great. But I then want something, like a bag, to lift my look above that of my friends' teenage daughters, and I can afford it as I save on clothes," says Teresa Lawson, 39, who recently bought a £900 Mulberry bag. "Because high-street clothes are so good it seems profligate to buy designer clothes. But to invest in an amazing bag somehow feels clever because you can't get that kind of quality from Zara. I save up for them, so it feels like a real treat, which is not a feeling I get from Mango, or wherever," agrees Ellen Hoffman, a lawyer who earns £35,000 a year and admits to one Gucci bag (£600), one from Chloé (£800) and a growing yen for a Chanel handbag (£1,000). But none of these is exactly a new development, so what started this trend?

First, there was the emergence in the late 90s of designer brands - such as Marc Jacobs, Chloé, Balenciaga and Luella - that targeted younger customers and made the accessories to match. Sofia Coppola featured in the adverts for Jacobs' bags and he named one after her. This naming of bags has also proved to be a clever and successful tactic as it gives the bags a kind of identity and it is now done by almost all fashion companies. Luella and Marc Jacobs name their bags after models and celebrities (respectively, Giselle and Stam, after the model Jessica Stam) while Mulberry and Chloé give their bags names that conjure images of sassy, if imaginary, women (respectively, Roxy and Edith).

As just the names of the Hermès Kelly and Birkin bags prove, celebrity endorsement of an accessory isn't anything new. What is new, though, is the numbers of bags competing for the endorsement, with every season bringing more, and the fact that they are aimed at younger celebrities and, by extension, younger customers. "Bags and shoes are everything in fashion now. At the shows [in Paris last month] I saw about 20 different new It bags," says Rachel Zoe, the celebrity stylist who has particularly encouraged the accessories craze, thanks to her penchant for oversized bags and sunglasses now sported by her clients including Keira Knightley, Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie.

Stuart Vevers designs the successful accessories division of the British label Luella and is the creative director of one of the biggest accessories success stories of the decade, Mulberry, which last year increased sales by 44% and whose first US shop opens in New York next week. But even he admits to being taken aback by how sharply accessories sales have risen: "I was really surprised when this craze took off a few years ago. There have always been successful handbags but British women didn't seem to have that desire for high-end bags before. Maybe it has something to do with the way women dress, in that now they dress much more casually so a designer bag has become a way to show that you are fashionable."

Every designer brand is, to use the industry parlance, focusing on their accessories. Bulgari, best known for jewellery, announced last month that it was doubling its accessories stores by the end of this year. Chloé and Balenciaga have made dozens of bag styles for this season. Alice Temperley, the British designer best known for floaty dresses and delicate blouses has launched a line of bags and sunglasses for next season costing on average, respectively, £700 and £178. "The bag business is very different from what it used to be. It's so much faster, faster, faster, and the bag you carry has become a statement. If you are building a brand then branching into accessories is definitely something you have to consider as these create a stronger brand image," she says.

The linking of accessories with fashion and a company's brand image has also played a part. It was Tom Ford in the 90s who first realised that in order for an accessories line to be desirable, it had to be connected to clothes. When he was creative director of Gucci he emphasised the previously all-but-ignored clothing line of the house, which had been known primarily for its accessories. It is a telling sign, though, that after Ford left Gucci and was under pressure to start up his own successful line, instead of launching a menswear line, as was widely rumoured, he brought out a range of sunglasses.

Fashion houses are happy to own up to the fact that accessories are an important part of their business. Prada concedes that they made up 63% of last year's profits, Gucci owns up to 54.3%, but they try not to make them sound too important, as that will give away the game that the brand is actually more about accessories than clothes and therefore detract from the brand name's cachet. "If you focus too much on the accessories you risk losing the image but at the same time, in terms of business, you really want to focus on the accessories," says Tomaso Galli, Prada's director of external relations. In other words, the clothes give the bags the image but the bags earn the money to make the clothes.

Traditional accessories labels, such as Louis Vuitton and Hermès, have made huge investments in their fashion divisions, installing respectively Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gaultier to give their bags and shoes the kind of high-fashion sheen that accessories need these days, but it is widely accepted that clothing accounts for only a small amount of their annual revenue. Many industry insiders suggest that some big brands massage their accessories sales figures downwards and the clothing ones up. "Everyone knows that most Italian labels make their money from leather goods, some up to 90%," said one fashion editor who asked not to be named.

Accessories have always been a key part of the fashion industry, now they dominate. Last spring's Prada show featured models in simple clothes dragging great wheelie luggage down the catwalk. At the Chanel show in Paris, Karl Lagerfeld seemed to have been so distracted by making gold, quilted bags and hulking great shoes that he forgot half the clothes, leaving the models with nothing to wear on their bottom halves other than hotpants. But then, what's the point in bothering to design a tweed skirt when you know that what everyone's really going to be looking at is the bag? "It's not that we don't concentrate on our ready-to-wear - we do invest in it and grow it - but accessories are more profitable," says Galli.

The appeal of accessories for retailers is obvious: on pretty much every level, they are easier to sell and more lucrative. "The margins are always better with accessories than clothes. You don't have to think about sizes, you need less space to store them than you do with clothes, you don't need as much space to show them off in shops and you don't need changing rooms," Galli points out. "For us, handbags have the highest margins because our sunglasses are licensed [to another company] but their margins are good, too."

Now that accessories have become so popular, prices have skyrocketed far above what anyone could have predicted just three to five years ago. A Chloé bag is £800, a Marc Jacobs is anywhere upwards of that. Back at Matches, you can find Balenciaga bags for up to £8,000. "We've actually sold quite a few of those to a mix of people. They are serious purchasers who want a collector's piece that isn't all that recognisable," says Tom Chapman.

"Our prices have been going up in recent years but they are reasonable for luxury products and prices are no longer what they used to be," says Galli. Perhaps more surprising than the hoiking-up of prices is that the only effect this has had on sales is to increase them. "It's not that price is irrelevant to customers, just that it is no longer the most important variable," he adds.

Prices have risen partly because manufacturers can get away with it - if there are customers who will spend anything on a bag, why sell it for £500 when you could get £800? - but also because accessories, bags in particular, have become so much more complicated. As anyone who has been inadvertently hit in the back of the head with the padlock dangling from a Chloé Paddington can tell you, superfluous hardware has become unexpectedly popular; ditto gold chain straps, oversized snaps and fastening and quilted leather - and all this has raised prices. But even those in the industry are shocked by how much women are prepared to pay: "I am surprised at how the prices have risen in the past five years. But women today seem to want so much more from their bags," says Stuart Vevers.

Another factor contributing to the accessories phenomenon is the success of the high street. Zara, Topshop et al may be adept at tricking out a Chloe-esque tunic dress but it is harder to copy a bag or shoes and it is on this front that designers have been fighting back. This is why most accessories are still made in Italy instead of China and developing-world countries, as fashion companies know that it is only on the quality front that they can keep aspirants at bay.

However, the high street is retaliating. In 2004, Topshop opened its first stand-alone shoe store in Manchester, reflecting the investment the company is now putting into accessories and, thanks to a similar financial focus on shoes and bags, New Look's shoes have garnered a similar reputation for high quality, despite the £20 price tag (one pair is sold every three seconds). But ironically, this has probably driven designers' prices up even more as they add yet more chains, buckles and expensive handiwork to distinguish their cashcows from the high-street versions.

More worryingly for designers, many of the bags are losing their aura of exclusivity and desirability. As customer demand has risen, so have the number of places you can buy the bags. Just a year or so ago, you had to get on a waiting list to buy a Chloé bag; now anyone with the desire and the funds could walk into a department store and buy one. Balenciaga was so horrified at having become associated with the footballers' wives and girlfriends due to their love of its Lariat bag that it changed the bag's name.

So is the designer accessories market reaching saturation point? An interesting indication of this was, in fact, revealed at the fashion shows. While nearly all the editors in the audience and the models on the catwalk swung around their identikit supersized bags, it was notable that some of the most influential figures in the business were bare-wristed. "I don't get [the It bag phenomenon], I find them clunky," says Cathy Horyn dismissively. Anna Wintour, editor of US Vogue, never carries a handbag to the shows, suggesting, as some have pointed out, that she has that even more desirable accessory - a chauffeured car - waiting outside in which she can leave all her important papers. With every Wag worth her oversized sunglasses carrying a designer handbag, and copies being sold on any street corner, it may well be the biggest statement bag a woman can carry is no bag at all.

The bags of the season

Early 1990s - Prada's nylon knapsack
With its plain style and designer label placed on the outside, the nylon knapsack let people who thought they were too cool to show off to - show off.

Late 90s - Fendi's Baguette bag
Too small, too expensive, too flash by half, the baguette was the inevitable bag of 1999, warning us all of the bling-bling apocalypse to come.

2000 - Christian Dior's Saddle bag
Shamelessly ritzier sorts paid out hundreds of pounds to wear a saddle on their backs. Yes, a saddle. An ironic homage to Helmut Newton or the nadir of misogyny as fashion? The jury is still out.

2001 - Balenciaga's Lariat bag
Small and simple, and with an appeal utterly incomprehensible to anyone not obsessed with fashion, this bag became a victim of its own success when the Wags adopted it.

2004 - Mulberry's Roxy bag
The bag that made the once staid fashion label into one of Britain's trendiest and most successful designer brands.

2005 - Chloe's Paddington bag
It has got a pointless padlock that weighs more than a small dog and it doesn't shut properly. None the less, this became the object of desire for fashion-obsessed twentysomethings around the world.

2006 - Marc Jacobs' Stam bag
Named after model Jessica Stam, with its quilted leather and chain strap this bag bore more than a few resemblances to styles one generally associates with Chanel.

2007 - Marc Jacobs' Sonic Shopper
Another guaranteed winner. It's cute, it's pretty, it's covered with crystals. That it will cost more than £4,000 is a downside negated by the fact that it will be very easy for the high street to copy.


Why does the fashion industry thrive in spite of rampant IP "piracy"?

In a forthcoming Virginia Law Review paper, entitled "The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design," two law professors investigate how the fashion industry manages to thrive despite rampant copying of clothing designs.

The paper's authors, Kal Raustiala of the University of California, and Chris Sprigman, start by observing that the fashion industry has what they term a "low-IP equilibrium," in which clothing designs enjoy almost no copy protection and designers frequently turn large profits by copying each others' work. In spite of the lack of IP protection for clothing designs—or rather, because of this lack, the authors argue—the fashion industry remains vibrant and profitable, exhibiting none of the negative effects on creativity that advocates of strong intellectual property (IP) rights would predict in the absence of government-enforced monopolies on creative "content."

Part of the overall reason for undertaking this investigation of the fashion industry is to question the standard assumptions about the relationship between intellectual property laws and incentives to create that underly all of modern intellectual property law. The standard theory goes that if a creator's exclusive right to profit from the distribution of her work is not protected by law, then creators will lose the incentive to create, as "free riders" drive down the price of the work by filling the market with copies.

This theory may hold true for books (the original "intellectual property" of Renaissance IP debates), inventions, and music, but it's apparently a poor fit for the fashion industry. If it weren't for widespread copying of clothing and accessory designs, there would be no such thing as a "fashion trend." The fashion industry, it seems, has settled into a relatively stable state (an equilibrium) in which a large amount of intellectual property "piracy" effectively drives the market.

Note: I'm going to keep putting the word "piracy" in those annoying scare-quotes because it's a terrible term for IP infringement. If pirates hijack a shipload of cannonballs in the Mediterranean, then the owners of that shipment are now short a few tons of cannonballs. If I download a copy of a song from a P2P service, then the owner of that IP may be out some money (assuming I would otherwise have bought that track elsewhere), but they're still in possession of the IP for the song; I haven't taken anyone's property from them, and it's not even clear that I've cost them any money if I wouldn't otherwise have purchased the track. Infringement, though illegal and possibly costly to an IP owner, does not equal piracy or theft, and the misuse of the term in this paper is unfortunate.

Anyway, Raustiala and Sprigman locate the roots of the fashion industry's successful low-IP equilibrium in two factors: induced obsolescence and anchoring.

Induced obsolescence

Because clothing is closely tied to status, especially in the realm of fashion, every design eventually becomes obsolete (i.e. it goes out of style) when it loses its ability to confer status on the wearer. When is something well and truly out of style? When everybody is wearing it, and that's where the open nature of fashion copying helps drive the fashion market. The authors write:

As Miucci Prada put it recently, "We let others copy us. And when they do, we drop it." The fashion cycle is driven faster, in other words, by widespread design copying, because copying erodes the positional [ed: or "status-conferring"] qualities of fashion goods. Designers in turn respond to this obsolescence with new designs. In short, piracy paradoxically benefits designers by inducing more rapid turnover and additional sales... What was elite quickly becomes mass.

So rampant, unauthorized copying drives the fashion cycle, and in doing so it spurs designer creativity; this is the opposite of what the standard assumptions about the relationship between unauthorized copying and incentives to create would predict.

It's important to include the authors' caveat about the importance of trademark law in this scheme. A genuine Prada purse confers more status than a Prada knock-off, so designers must protect their trademarks aggressively, even if they don't protect the designs to which those marks are attached.


The second phenomenon that Raustiala and Sprigman identify at the root of the fashion industry's low-IP success is what they call anchoring. Anchoring describes the process by which the industry converges on a few major design themes, or trends, during a fashion season—whether skirts are fitted or flowing, or cuffs are wide or slim, and so on. Anchoring is also the mechanism by which the fashion industry signals to consumers that trends have changed, and it's time to update the wardrobe.

While the industry produces a wide variety of designs at any one time, readily discernible trends nonetheless emerge and come to define a particular season's style. These trends evolve through an undirected process of copying, referencing, receiving input from consultants, testing design themes via observation of rivals' designs at runway shows, communication with buyers for key retailers, and coverage and commentary in the press.

Copying helps to anchor the new season to a limited number of design themes, which are freely workable by all firms in the industry within the low-IP equilibrium. A regime of free appropriation helps emergent themes become full-blown trends; trendy consumers follow suit. Anchoring thus encourages consumption by conveying to consumers important information about the season's dominant styles: suits are slim, or roomy; skirts are tweedy, or bohemian; the hot handbag is small, rectangular, and made of white-stitched black leather, and so forth. Thus anchoring helps fashion-conscious consumers understand (1) when the mode has shifted, (2) what defines the new mode, and (3) what to buy to remain within it.

So unrestrained copying not only drives the production of new designs by making older designs obsolete, but it also helps shape the new designs around themes so that consumers can easily identify what looks are "in" or "out" at the moment.

What does this mean for Big Content's crusade against peer-to-peer copying?

Probably not much, at least in the near term. The two phenomena identified above are at the very least peculiar to markets involving "positional goods," and may well be peculiar to the fashion industry in particular. The models developed in the paper aren't really that generalizable to other IP regimes, and the authors acknowledge as much.

Nonetheless, the paper may be a good first step in moving beyond traditional, blanket assumptions about the relationship between copying and innovation, and it may spur legal scholars to develop more detailed models of intellectual property that fit specific industries. The paper also suggests that when technological and market conditions change dramatically, as they have in the wake of the P2P revolution, the relationship between unauthorized copying and incentives to create may change dramatically as well.

Further reading Source:

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Chanel Round Bowling

Meet the new love of my life! I am so in love right now. Chanel came out with the Round Bowling collection for Fall to lure a new generation into Chanel obsession. Although I am already Chanel obsessed, I sometimes find myself wanting something slightly younger and more casual. That is why as soon as I saw this bag, I knew it had to be mine. We are always preaching to invest in classics and this is a bag that is definitely a classic without the hard to wear formality of a totally classic bag. The calf leather is less precious but also makes it lower maintenance than the uber luxurious lambskin that scratches and stains easily. The stitching gives it the timeless touch, it is not quilted so it is less "stuffy" and more run around chic. It comes in 3 sizes but the large one is almost the size of a carry on at 9" x 15"; there is also a cute little cosmetic bag in the collection. In either black, white or dark beige, you can be sure this bag will be a staple that will last you a lifetime. $2195 for medium, call Chanel at 800-550-0052 to locate a bag at the Chanel boutique closest to you.


Topshop's Leather Zip Top Holdall

There's been a lot of talk lately about Topshop and it's rising prices, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a real leather bag of this size for less than the £45 they're currently charging for it. This holdall comes in a lovely colour which Topshop describe as "berry red" and which I'd probably call "plum". Whatever you want to call it, though, it's a nice, roomy bag for the price, and the leather has a nice, slightly aged look in the close up. It's also machine washable: what more could you want?


Luxury handbags boost for Burberry

Fashion house Burberry today said that "outstanding" demand for its new range of luxury handbags helped it to a 7% hike in half-year operating profits.

The London-based firm said the handbags, modelled by Kate Moss, ensured revenues for the six months to September 30 rose 11% to £392 million, while operating profits before one-off costs were up to £84.2 million.

Retail sales rose 23% as the firm, famous for its black, tan and red check design, also benefited from the celebrations surrounding its 150th anniversary.

The company said it enjoyed international sales growth, with strong trading at its Hong Kong stores lifting Asia Pacific sales 17% to £75.8 million, while sales in new markets including Russia, eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America surged 39% to £8.9 million.

However, the sales boost failed to prevent a slide in pre-tax profits as the firm was hit by the cost of its Project Atlas restructuring initiative.

Profits for the six months fell from £78.1 million to £73.4 million as restructuring costs climbed from £3 million last year to £9.6 million.

Alongside sales at its 300-plus stores, including sites in Regent Street and Knightsbridge, Burberry added that wholesale revenues climbed 1% but warned that production delays for key outerwear and handbags and its limited ability to respond to repeat orders had curbed wholesale growth.

Chief executive Angela Ahrendts said: "Led by excellent retail performance, strong outerwear sales and enthusiastic demand for new accessories collections, Burberry delivered a 10% gain in adjusted operating income in the first half.

"The management team moves confidently into the second half as we continue to execute our strategies."

Burberry raised its interim dividend from 2.5p per share to 2.875p per share, but the fall in pre-tax profits sent shares in the company down more than 1% today.


South Africa: Fantasy Handbags And Fabulous Tales

Lana Marks has a good story. Perhaps too good. Born in East London she now lives in Palm Beach, Florida, and sells expensive handbags to the world's rich and famous. "After about 15 years of business I've sold to most of the royalty of the world, the celebrities of the world and the wealthy of the world," she says matter-of-factly. "I marketed myself very well."

Her handbags, some of which sell for the price of a suburban South African house, have an impressive following. US first lady Laura Bush and actresses Jennifer Aniston and Kate Winslet carry her bags. So, too, did Princess Diana, who even has a Marks bag range named after her.

Marks, perhaps, had her greatest moment of public triumph when actress Charlize Theron carried Marks's most expensive bag -- the Cleopatra Clutch, made out of white gold, with 1500 diamonds set into the frame and a price tag of $100000 -- on the red carpet to the 2004 Academy Awards, when she won the Oscar for her role in Monster.

Her company, Lana Marks, has stores in Palm Beach, in New York, in Beverly Hills and in Dubai. How she came to this stage is a story Marks purrs out down the phone line from her Madison Avenue office.

The woman who was born Lana Bank in 1953 has a refined voice that oozes confidence. She comes across as a person of quality, as polished as her collection of handbags that offers 150 designs available in alligator, ostrich, crocodile and lizard skin.

"I went to very fine schools," she says of Sterling Primary School and Clarendon High School in East London.

"I did ballet with the Royal Academy of Ballet's South African affiliate in East London. I started my tennis career in East London. I have played in Wimbledon, the French, and South African Open."

After what she describes as a whirlwind romance, in 1976 she married Neville Marks, a British psychiatrist who was working at Cape Town's Groote Schuur Hospital. The marriage cut short her commerce degree studies at Wits and they left SA. After a stay on an island she is not keen to name -- "just one of the islands where he helped in a medical capacity" -- they settled in Palm Beach, Florida, in 1987.

Do I know Palm Beach? She then describes it.

"It's the most exclusive part of the US. It's a small enclave, an island north of Miami. One-third of the world's wealth passes through Palm Beach in season. The crème de la crème of the world lives there."

Her entry into the world of accessories, she says, came about after she was unable to find a suitable alligator skin handbag to take on board the royal yacht Britannia, for a cruise to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's birthday.

"I looked up Palm Beach's main avenue where all the luxury brands have shops. I came back unsuccessful. There was nothing in my style and the colour I wanted," she says.

This gave her an interest in making bags for people like herself. She says she spent two years learning about the industry.

"I researched all top factories, persuaded them to do business with me and teach me. I'm extraordinarily persistent and love people and fortunately I have good taste," says Marks, above.

Having made her first bags, the next step was to market them.

"I persuaded the then magazine European Travel and Life -- similar to Vanity Fair -- to print a page in colour of the large pink alligator skin lunchbox -- the first handbag I created -- and then I persuaded the buyer of Saks Fifth Avenue -- after more than 60 phone calls -- to let me do a small show in their regional store in Palm Beach for two days, with no fanfare, and only to display the five handbags which comprised my first collection, on a counter," she recalls.

"The show was to be from 2pm until 4pm. I arrived at 9am and left at 6pm both days. At 5.45pm on the first day someone passed by the counter and ordered three handbags, for her and her two daughters, and paid $15000 up front, and a similar purchase happened at 5.50pm on the second day for $16000. Saks Fifth Avenue sat up and took notice; the rest was history."

It is a mistake to ask Marks how she competes with big-name brands such as Louis Vuitton, the current must-have bag.

"I don't compete with them. Louis Vuitton's market is not mine at all. Mine is a much, much more upscale brand. My customer isn't carrying Louis Vuitton. They don't own one."

Rivals do exist, but Marks says her bags are better value.

"My prices for my quality styling are the best internationally. If you compare a handbag by Hermes, an alligator skin Hermes Kelly bag, in crocodile, it's $25000, while my Princess Diana will be $8000. If you compare, ours is a third the price."

Having on the other end of the phone the Official Handbag and Accessory Consultant for the 2000 Academy Awards, it is a good opportunity to ask a style question. Do handbags have to match clothes these days?

"Absolutely not," she replies. "I'm working with top Hollywood stars and they're getting my bag and choosing their clothes based on that.

"I have a new handbag, the Positano Tote (pictured below), which costs $9500 or $12500. I'm wearing it with fuchsia pink as a neutral and training all my customers to wear a hot colour as a neutral, eg hot pink, and wear it with everything and treat it as a fashion accent."

It is strange to hear of someone "training" their customers rather than the other way around, but Marks makes it sound the most natural thing in the world.

"They trust my fashion and style sense. Because I've been doing it for quite a while."

Marks's story is fascinating. Verifying the details of that story, however, is harder. Her husband, who is listed in Groote Schuur's 1974 and 1975 annual reports as a full-time psychiatrist, came to SA to be involved in heart transplant work, Marks initially says.

"He came out to help Chris Barnard with the heart transplants," she says.

When pushed for further detail on this in a conversation yesterday, however, she gives a different answer.

"I never said he worked for Chris Barnard. He was seconded by Chris Barnard to see the patients post-operatively after the transplants."

Her tennis career is also hard to find evidence of. The East London Daily Dispatch newspaper has no archived stories of her and a search of records on the WTA Tour website of professional women players yields no record, even though it has record of her contemporaries, Linky Boshoff and Ilana Kloss. When asked for details of her apparent appearances in Wimbledon qualifiers and first round of the French Open, Marks' memory is hazy.

"In the French Open, I played at Roland Garros, and lost in the first round to an Australian, Ann Smith. It could have been '70s or '80s ... probably the '80s."

The French Open website has no record of her on its 1970s or 1980s tournament lists.

Johannesburg-born Ilana Kloss, winner of the Wimbledon junior title in 1972 and US Open junior title in 1973 and now the New York-based CEO and commissioner of World Team Tennis, also has no recollection of Marks' international tennis career.

"As far as pursuing a professional career, she was good but not great. For the most part, I used to beat up on her. I don't recall her having any great success outside of SA," Kloss says.

"I think she's a great self-promoter and my hat's off to her."

It does turn out that Marks did play international tennis -- for Bermuda. She also represented the US in tennis at the Maccabi Games and won two bronze medals, although she says she cannot remember the years.

Marks represented Bermuda in the Maccabi Games in 1985. This Atlantic haven for the wealthy was the island she does not mention and was home to Lana and Neville from 1976 until 1985. He had worked there in private practice since the early 1970s and returned there with his newly wed wife.

The Marks' stay on that island turns out to have been controversial. The couple were convicted of breaking Bermudan immigration laws in June 1982, for hiring a South African nanny illegally, but the conviction was overturned on appeal the following year. However, the Bermudan immigration department refused to renew Neville's work permit and the family was forced to leave the island in 1985, local newspaper reports say.

When asked yesterday if that was the reason she left Bermuda, Marks's response is blunt.

"I have no idea."

You don't remember?


Controversy also dogged Marks' appearance in the 1985 Maccabi Games. The island's tennis body, the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association, said afterwards she had participated in the games without their knowledge, the local Royal Gazette newspaper reported in August 1985.

Her recollection of details may be hazy, but Lana Marks has successfully convinced the rich and famous to buy her handbags and marketed herself on that basis.

In November 1997, three months after Princess Diana's fatal car crash, the now-defunct Personality magazine published an eight-page article in which Marks wrote about her 11-month friendship with the late princess and published handwritten notes to her written on Kensington Palace stationery.

"I want to tell the world about this friendship -- the most exciting dream of a lifetime," Marks says in that article. "Had she not passed away, my lips would have remained sealed."

Marks has a great story. She has built up a successful brand. As for the rest of her story -- that's quite a brag, lady.