Friday, February 09, 2007

Summer 2007 Report

Over sized bags swell to ridiculously large dimensions this summer with metallic leather, luxurious python and patent glossy neon being the newest ideas. Shoes are adorned with metal ware so heavy we'll be giving our ankles a work out every time we step out of the door. And platforms and wedges come high and heavy with sci-fi touches like mirrored heels or ball bearing soles. For sunglasses too go large in futuristic visors and '60s bug eyes.

Click here for the full report.


The New Season Bags

From the 'Downtown' to the 'Maggie', get clued up on this season's newest, hottest handbag's. Click here for the slideshow at


After word: ‘It’s In the Bag: Purses from the Permanent Collection’ from the Museum of the City of New York

#2. Vanity case, 1914 – 16
Gift of Judith Leiber, 80.138.4,

Silver plated openwork hinged oval frame, inset with black oval plaques, each encircled by row of marcasite with central metal and marcasite appliqué; silver embossed and marcasite-set drop with braided chain tassel; filigree link and bead chain

#3. Lady’s purse, ca. 1820
Gift of Miss Mary T. Cockcroft, 31.102.7.b,

Multi-colored worsted needlepoint pouch bag with ornamental cut-steel beads; drawstring handle; gathered at bottom with silver tassel

#4. Reticule, 1800-1820
Gift of Mary Hall Sayre, 36.65.3,

Drawn steel wire cording and mesh, silk lined

A show on ladies purses from the last three centuries is a really exciting and very ‘of the moment’ exhibition for the fashion/conscious and savvy gal, who is not only interested in a beautiful design and a brand-name, but wants to explore more and learn how this magnificent accessory has been a prized possession for so many years.

Fascinated with the exhibition and the beautiful purses on display, I asked the curator Phyllis Magidson to talk to me about this exciting accessory, explain why the bags on view are so important, and what we learn by studying them.

A walk though by the curator of an exhibition is a treat in itself; Phyllis Magidson helped me see the exhibition with a very different eye. Not only was I blown away with the beauty and craftsmanship of those portable treasures, but I also learnt historical and sociological facts depicted by their style and design. We traveled through time; it was a magical trip made up of stitches, crocheting, gilt-trimmed velvets, beautiful leathers, sparkly beads and precious stones. I felt a little bit like Cinderella, dressing for a ball in the 1870's & tucking my handkerchief in my silk reticule, strolling the lime stoned streets of Paris in the 1920's in my ‘power suit’ with my fabulous alligator clutch under my arm, walking down 34th street to buy a new silver-trimmed pocket book from Tiffany & Co. in the 40's, or dancing in the 70's, as a Studio 54 true queen, toting my sparkly beaded bag and bedazzling the crowds.

The exhibition is divided into sections of time, but most importantly style and design of bags. That way we can view a pouch bag that was crafted in the 1870s and compare it with one that was designed in the 1970's:
- Pouch Bags
- Reticule-Miniature purses
- Clutches
- Black Bags
- Beaded Bags
- Pocket books
- Evening Bags
- Purses

I am happy to share with you the magnificent journey in the handbag world with Phyllis Magidson. I asked her very few questions and let her talk to me about the exhibits in the way she wanted. Time flew so fast. Enjoy:

- PM: “This exhibition is based on one of the strengths of the Museum’s Permanent Collection, handbags. which is a collection that came to them through donations mainly, through New Yorkers, whose families have lived in the City from early points in History through Contemporary times. Since NYC has been a center of trade, we have had a very broad range and materials and a lot of money. People from early on have been into conspicuous consumption. Clothing and accessories have been pivotal in the way people perceived other people and handbags are a microcosm of life in NYC. They also tell a tremendous story of women and their position in society.”

PM: “The pouch is a form that existed in pre-history. It can be made from skins to cloths and it intended to transport something from gunshots to gold, anything you need to carry. Women who were of an upper class were not expected to leave their houses for a tremendous amount of time so they would take with them a scent bottle and another bag with needlework. It was expected for them to be doing something with a needle at all times. The knitting bags / the needlework bags would carry all that stuff. Little crazes in society show up in handbags. i.e. an innovation, a precious metal, a color, a window that you can peek in and see society at a particular period. It is made to hold your belongings loosely, no specific shape exists.”

She is showing me an example of a pouch made of a recycled Fortuni tea gown.

PM: “Mariano Fortuny was a Venetian designer who came up with a very exclusive technique for stenciling patterns on silk velvet. The material was very costly and if something happened to it, you would want to salvage the fabric in some way. This one became a pouch with a frame. There are also a couple of items that came to NY from grand tours including a Chinese needlework bag with a phoenix, embroidered in China, and a needle pointer brought back from Paris either a complete purchase of made from a kit.”

We are now looking over the reticule display.

PM: “The reticule was a bag that was suspended from the wrist, and in the 19th century it is part of your attire, it could be a little keepsake, a conversation piece and we have a vast selection from teeny tiny reticules which were suspended by rings and a mad-money little pouch with white gold and diamonds, (holding a single gold coin). Some reticules were purchased abroad and were brought back as souvenirs; that reminded the recipient that his/her friend was able to go abroad and he/she couldn’t. There is beadwork, examples of motifs that were probably taken from companion magazines, embroidered beadwork, beadwork done on a frame, an example with native-American motifs bought probably from a vendor at Niagara Falls, and custom-made reticules. Up to the 19th century the same people who did jewelry and metalwork, would also make bags. But they were also craftsmen that specialized in bags, parasols, etc.”

Moving along the clutch bag display…

PM: Clutch bags were invented in the 20s. They are the deco interpretation of the handbag, they are very sleek, trim and they echo the overriding aesthetic of garments at the time, where everything was very linear. There is surface embellishment but the basic shapes are very clean and very modern. A pouch is very chic; it is quick, clean and very modern in feeling. There is one example, in its original Cartier presentation box, which has a jewel on it with gold and diamonds, whereas another bag is a Lalique bead. A non-traditional bag in the group: a long large John Frederique’s bag which is high late deco, which is rolled up and popped under your arm as a baguette.”

The black bag display is wonderful; bags from the 1870's up to the 1970's, in all shapes, designs and sizes.

PM: “Everyone needs a black bag and this display has examples from the 1870's, starting with the Chatelaine bag, which was suspended from the waist of the wearer. We also included an Elsa Schiaparelli triptych bag, black suede with a mirror – this is a vanity bag. Here’s a Chanel coule de sac, which has become the single classic signature bag instantly recognizable for stylistic elements. The Tiffany bags were marked and had status, but the Chanel form was something that is modern, and it embodies the money that is necessary to purchase it - the status of that. And a wonderful fan shaped bag. Black bags also say something not only about the society, but also about the wearer. You look at a bag and think: ‘I’ve never would have thought that of her’. It is a little secret revelation at times.”

From a distance, one can see a wide selection of beaded bags. I am drawn to it like a bee is drawn to honey.

PM: Beaded bags; a very strong group that takes you from the latter part of the 19th century to the 1950's: you see the difference in techniques, color palette, popular motifs. A number of these bags are in the ‘carpet bag’ category, which was a very popular category in the early 20th century. Some of them are drawstring, and later on they make their way on to frames, which are more practical and it is easier for the user to get in and out a bag that has a frame, as it is less damaging to the beaded embroidery, and it is also easier to get something larger in there without having to fish for it. We have one bag, which is made entirely out of coral, probably from Italy; many Americans between the Wars were couture clients, and they would travel and buy not only clothes, but also shoes and accessories. The materials vary and the frames vary, some of them are 14carat gold, another one with enamel work, and a sapphire on the clasp of the bag, and paperclip gold chain.”

Next is the pocket book collection:

PM: “Tiffany & Co. was the first status purveyor and maker of pocket books. They were on 14th Street and Union Square during the time that all the bags on exhibition were made and sold. Tiffany’s was the cornerstone of the ladies mile, they were a tremendously prestigious store by the 1870's, and they were fabulous metal workers, engaged the best metal workers and metal techniques of the world. You can see motifs cropping up on some of the metalwork. The collection here has some beautiful with heavy silver frames. Many of the frames have motifs that Tiffany’s used for flatware and table service. And then you also have pieces that bow into various movements in the art world, i.e. organic motifs showing up, art-nouveau inspired. Tiffany was also known for its exotic leathers that they were able to acquire. Nobody went to Tiffany’s unless they had money. If you were giving a gift for a wedding or a debutant it would have been from Tiffany. It was a status gift and in effect this is the first status bag.”

Next is the display of the sparkly evening bags.

PM: Evening Bags: As nightlife became increasingly important in NYC from 1890's, women would get dressed up for events, like the opera (the Metropolitan Opera House opened in 1883) and any event that pulled a lady out of the house would have made it essential for her to have more things with her, and many of these bags are larger and very decorative because now it intended to catch the light of the night time.”

She is showing me some examples of bags decorated with rhinestones, a Minaudiere with a shoulder strap done by Judith Leiber, a silver pouch, a late 19th century bag with beau and feather motifs, some recycled materials, a pinch clap, a bag with an Egyptian sun scarab on its frame, made of coin silver circa 1923, which coincides with the discovery of Tutankhamen’s Tomb and Egypt mania was fashionable.

PM: “A fashionable woman that went out a lot would be expected to have a wardrobe of dresses, bags, gloves, hair ornaments, etc.”

The last display is a group of hand-bags.

PM: “The hand-bag was luggage and it looks incredibly modern, down to the scale of a woman. Many bags were bought from catalogues or department stores. The shapes were luggage, but the materials were more feminine, like straw, or lunchbox form, utilitarian antiques, etc.”

As the tour was over, I couldn’t help myself and asked Phyllis what she thinks of the bags today, and how she feels about the craze with designer bags and celebrities. She was a little reluctant to answer, because as a social historian, she is mostly an observer and does not want to formulate opinions, and jump into conclusions quickly. However, she did tell me that she is a little dismayed at the decline of craftsmanship on so many things that were once hand-produced by various skilled artisans (and so are we). Also, she said, that because of this whole phenomenon of iconic celebrity leadership, the handbag has been removed from being an object that makes a statement about the wearer to a mass movement. However, she hopes that there are enough people out there who make personal statements and really like what they purchase no matter what. And… off we went…

IV: “Thank you so much! I know our readers will feel like they were at the exhibition.”
PM: “Thank you and our pleasure. We hope your readers certainly do enjoy it.”


10 Steps to Finding the Perfect Bag on eBay

The Manolos that I am currently bidding on...

The Cosmopolitan that I am drinking during my bidding process

The Burberry that I won

Only 1 minute and 36 seconds left…TIME TO BID!” The rush of adrenaline that I get when I’m about to win an auction is enough for a doctor to prescribe medication. Ladies and Gentlemen (and the Shopping Obsessed) what I am talking about is the epidemic of eBay.

Being recently forced into making a budget cut due to my indentured servitude of completing an internship, this has left me with a less than functional “Bag Budget.” They say that when life gives you lemons make lemonade, I say when your cash flow becomes detrimental to your health, you must outsource!

I have purchased many items from eBay, and have had only FABULOUS experiences with my new favorite store! Here are some just to name a few:
Cashmere Burberry Scarf, Burberry Cosmetics Case, Bluetooth Headset, Adrienne Vittadini Handbag, Blackberry, Coach Passport Case, Juicy Couture Beach Hat, Limited Edition Ugg Boots, Coach Planner, etc. and etc! In total I have purchased 22 eBay items, and have loved each and every item more than the last!

eBay’s campaign is “Whatever IT is, you can get IT on eBay,” and they are 100% correct. As a ‘Budget Fashionista’ veteran I am constantly looking for steals and deals; eBay has turned out to be my perfect window of opportunity.

You can “eBay” your basic designer handbag such as; Gucci, Prada, D&G, Louis Vuitton; or your vintage accessories by Chanel and YSL. Also be sure to check out hard to find designers like Trina Turk or Goyard; as well as one-of-a-kind handbags.

Unfortunately, you are bound to face the issue of a “knockoff” or “imitation” handbag; so as an eBay connoisseur, I am here to give you some *VIP* tips to ensure your success at this online shopping experience:

1. Always type in “Authentic” when searching for a specific designer item. Also note the prices. If your dream Gucci bag is selling for $700 and the seller is only selling for $90, then this item may not be authentic.

2. Check the sellers’ feedback, if it is less than 95%, read the comments. It could be as minor as a misunderstanding customer, or as bad as never receiving the item from the seller. If you are noticing a recent pattern of negative feedback, I recommend that you not purchase from this seller.

3. Read ALL PRINT carefully, often times a seller will or will not mention that the item has minor scratches or stains.

4. Make sure to read the return policy, some sellers' make all sales final, while others are more lenient and will accept returns. Make sure this is exactly what you are looking to buy.

5. Become familiar with the eBay lingo. Here is a crash course: ‘NWT’ – New With Tags, ‘NWOT’– New Without Tags, ‘LN’- Like New, and ‘NIB’ – New In Box.

6. Understand that once you bid on an item it is like signing a contract. It is final and you are now agreeing to pay for the item at the price you just listed.

7. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Often knockoff bags will appear to look real so be aware of the correct placement of labels, color patterns and overall appearance of bag.

8. Most sellers will offer an item at a “Buy It Now” price. This takes away from the bidding process and lets you buy the bag immediately. This is great if you are set on the bag and the price is right. Hurry! Don’t let it get away!

9. Paypal – This is the service most buyers and sellers prefer when sending payments. It is safe and secure and free to sign up!

10. Don’t be afraid to ask a seller a question, if they are professional they will respond in a timely manner. A seller will also let you know about the shipping fees associated with this item.

Here’s a bonus tip:
**Be Patient – it can take up to about two weeks for all transactions to clear and be shipped. If you are looking for a specific item and you cannot find it on your first shot, always go back even 24 hours later. There are millions of listing posted on eBay a day, and that day, may be your lucky one!

Most importantly HAVE FUN! In my opinion nothing else is better than sitting home on a Tuesday night sipping a Cosmopolitan in my pajamas and knowing that I will be getting a new YSL Muse bag for less than retail!


Handle It

Sure it’s a lady-like silhouette, but the resurgence in the structured satchel has allowed designers to dig deep into their creative souls and create modem looks. So, whether you’re a patent-leather-wearing vixen or a rock-and-chic bagista, there’s no doubt the right satchel exists for you.

Dolce & Gabbana’s Patent Leather Frame Bag in black with larger-than-life goldtone logo. How Victoria Beckham of you? ($1,995)
Jenny Yuen’s Sherlock Overnight Bag in almond. This is a newbie we’re going to be watch in seasons to come. ($475; PRE-ORDER NOW: will ship in 2-3 weeks)
L.A.M.B.’s Mandeville satchel in saddle pebble grain printed and coated canvas with black leather trim Gwen’s Rasta style all and couture-licious. ($305; Bloomindales)


Porcelain Skin

Nudity is always in fashion, and on the Spring/Summer 2007 runways barley there colors like blush, beige and cream were the hues of choice. Fleshy and fresh, we can’t get enough of these soft shades.

Valentino’s Patent Leather Satchel with braiding detail is surprisingly practical and shamelessly pricy. Did someone say “V-day gifts”? ($1,695)
Gustto’s Big Baca Satchel in white crème has a soft, tumbled leather finish and shapeless form ideal for the gal that just can’t let go of the down-town chic look. ($760)
Rafe’s Vanessa Satchel in blush textured lambskin with braded handle and contrast stitching is sweat. ($475)


Celine's in the Groove

We are really loving Celine these days, as if you couldn't already tell. Since Celine's Bittersweet won the poll as everyone's favorite shiny mirrored bag, we thought we'd share the white pebbled leather version with you as well. White is in fact THE color that goes with everything, not black. That is why every Spring there is a frantic search for the best white bags out there. This may not be THE best (the Lanvin Maxi-Miss is), but this bag is much more versatile and practical. Another Celine favorite is the Buffalo tote in silver, which is a flashier alternative to white for summer nights. I love the clean simple lines of this bag and of course, the very handy outer pockets are really well thought out. You can't go wrong with the classic beautiful elegance of Celine. Bittersweet at eLuxury for $1050 and Buffalo tote at Neiman Marcus for $1250.


Coach Social Climbs with Legacy

Coach, the most popular affordable bag line ($195 - $300) in the world, has aspiration to capture the higher end market with it's new line named Coach Legacy (an alligator bag is $10,000, leather bags range from $495-$795). My question is, if you had ten grand to blow, would you buy a Coach bag made in China? Or would you go straight to Hermes and invest in a birkin or kelly? My opinion is that you can not go high once you've established yourself as the bargain brand because there is no perceived value attached to the brand. Existing luxury brands, however, do well expanding into lower end lines. For example, should Hermes ever branch out to the lower end market, they would do a bang up business because who wouldn't want a little piece of Hermes at a fraction of the price? I mean look at the Legacy bag featured above, I don't care what they call it, it still looks like a $200 Coach bag to me. "Coach Legacy" boutiques to open in LA on Robertson Blvd. and in New York on Bleeker St. in the Fall. What are your thoughts on Coach's new higher end line?

(Heh - I am not called CoachChick for nothing. I personally LOVE the new line and plan to get one in a few weeks or so.)


Jimmy Choo Re-sold

Lion's Group International (owned by Texas gazillionaire Tom Hicks) purchased Jimmy Choo in 2004 and decided they've made enough money on their investment so they've sold it to TowerBrook Capital for $364.5 million dollars this week. Tamara Mellon remains as figurehead and says she plans to expand into sunglasses, lingerie, and swimwear under the Jimmy Choo brand. Sandra Choi, Jimmy Choo's niece, will stay on as Creative Director. Maybe we'll see an improvement in it's line of bags but don't hold your breath.


Ah, so long since I have blogged...

Life has gotten in the way, but I am back, better than ever! So let's get on with it, shall we?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Worst Bags of 2006

Just as is chronicaling the Top 100 Bags of 2006, also has a delightful Worst Bags of 2006 feature. As stated at the site, "We are not picking the absolute worst bags out there, you walk into most mall shops and you will easily find worse offenders. Our honor goes to those whose contribution to fashion should be snob worthy but instead fall far short of acceptable. Many on the list are bags touted as the latest and greatest "it" bags but we disagree. Some on the list are just plain ridiculous and entertaining." Click here to see the list.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Holidays Are Over (Whew!)

But my fun just began! Check out the bag over in the Bagalicious section to the right and you will see my delicious new acquisition, that I just got today! As Rachel Ray would say, "Yum!" New York designer Betsey Johnson has built her long-standing career in fashion by following her own set of rules. Known for her celebration of the exuberant, the embelished, and the over the top, Betsey has been rocking the fashion industry with her unique and original designs since the 1960's. Now that I finally own one of these babies (oh so soft leather, by the way) I can understand why. The look reminds me of my old punk and goth days, erm, back when the punks and goths were original. Get one for yourself, too!