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Structure Says Sophistication

Handbags Focus on Minimalism

By PAMELA DITTMER MCKUEN
   If you’re still carrying around a slouchy hobo or shopping tote, you need to straighten up. That’s what the trendiest handbags have done. They’re built with structure and shape that stand upright no matter how rigorous your schedule. Structured handbags are a significant accessories trend, one that reflects the greater fashion world’s attitude of simple sophistication. Says Kristina Moreno, president and founder of the online emporium Handbago.com, “Designers are focusing on functionality, simplicity, quality craftsmanship and minimalism in all aspects of the design process.”
   As for handbags, many designers have tossed aside the highly embellished details they once used to gain attention, and are opting for architecturally
influenced lines instead, she added.
  Driving the trend are myriad social forces such as the uncertain economic climate. During times like these, we gravitate toward the familiar and comfortable rather than adding greater unknown. Another is the popularity of the “Mad Men” television show, which has made all things retro burst alive again. Perhaps even more influential is the woman at work. More mobile and tech-savvy than ever, she’s multi-tasking as she goes. She’s tired of hauling multiple bags, and it’s risky to stuff an iPad or laptop into a hobo. And she nixes the masculine attaché case. That’s taking retro way too far.
  A structured handbag adds refinement to whatever else you are wearing, says fashion consultant Jackie Walker, author of I Don’t Have A Thing To Wear: The Psychology of Your Closet. “A small fabric bag adds elegance to cocktail attire,” she says. “A sleek leather hard-body says you’re all business. And if you run out for early morning coffee while wearing sloppy jeans and flip-flops, your bag says, ‘This is who I really am.’”
  The question then is: Which structured handbag will you choose? The most iconic of the classics are Hermes’ Kelly and Birkin models. The Kelly bag, named after Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, has been a celebrity favorite since the 1950s. The Birkin bag played a starring role in a TV episode of “Sex and the City.” Another charmer is the Chanel quilted leather bag with chain handle and double C logo.
  Perhaps your personal aesthetics crave a modern hand. You’ll find the desired crisp lines and boxy silhouettes re-imagined with luxe fabrications, multi-tonal colorations and striking hardware. Dallas-based designer Bobby Schandra, whose works have been featured on HBO’s hit “Entourage,” offers a palette of boldly hued animal prints in patent leather. Moreno’s recommendations include the Riki Rosetta vintage frame satchel, accented with stitched roses ($498) and the Botkier “Haven” tassled satchel ($549).
  Even more contemporary is HVE by Hester van Eeghen of Amsterdam. These brightly hued and geometrically inspired bags have a cult-like following in Europe, but only recently have they been introduced in the United States. The “Tummy” model is a two-toned media bag with a vertical silhouette ($850). “Harmonica” is a triangularly-shaped day bag with cut-out handle ($775). The sides fold out like an accordion, which the Dutch call a harmonica; hence, the name. The Harmonica is part of the permanent collection of the Amsterdam Historical Museum.

Published: February 11, 2011
Issue: February 2011 Heart Health Issue