Thursday, May 19, 2011

Outstanding Handbag Designers to Watch

As some of you may already know, I love shopping for handbags, talking about handbags and writing about handbags. While this obsession can be time consuming, I welcome this passion for these beautifully crafted things so that they can hold the rest of your beautiful things.
Here is a list of designers that I think are going to be around for a very long time. Some of them haven't been around for too long, but have remarkable impressions on the fashion world.

Olivia Harris

Joy Gryson, owner and founder, worked for Liz Claiborne, Coach, Calvin Klein, and Marc Jacobs until she launched her own line in 2006 called GRYSON. After huge success with GRYSON she launched Olivia Harris in 2007, named after her daughter. This line is geared toward a young and slightly edgier demographic then her other label, which has more structured bags. Her designs are unique, eye-catching with a mix of femininity and versatility. She recently launched a third line called MCM New York that will be sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. It doesn't seem like Joy has any plans getting comfortable in the handbag world. She constantly strives for the next best thing and setting new trends. You can find Olivia Harris bags in high end department stores as well as online. I encourage you to check out her bags if you can. The reviews are quite spectacular. I'm thinking this may be my next purchase. This line retails from $300 to $700.

Tory Burch

On her opening day of her own store in New York City her entire inventory sold out. She was inspired after 9/11 to go for her dreams and worked relentlessly until she was able to launch her own line. With resort-wear inspired designs, her line has grown rapidly and she continues to come out with innovative designs that sell out consistently. I have to say that I didn't start becoming a fan until 2008 when I think she really grew into her style. I have two of her bags and am highly likely to purchase more in the future. The bag featured is a bit on the higher side at $595, but you can definitely find some for less. She actually has phenomenal wallets as well, which I own too. I am excited to see what things she will come up with next.
Here's what she said about luxury that just makes me like her even
more..."luxury not something you can buy, it’s about having personal style
and living your life based on your individual aesthetic. It is not about spending
money but also about having taste, developing it over time and understanding
how to apply it to every aspect of your life.”


Consuelo Castiglioni founded the company in 1994, but first started working with fur by making it more wearable and appealing. She then had to design clothes to wear underneath the fur, which started this Italian fashion line.
Her style is understated, practical and chic. I happen to think they are some of the best versatile bags around and I wish I owned one already! The leather she uses is buttery soft with a quality that will last for years. She only started with handbags in 2004, but it's only bound to get better as time goes on, if that's even possible. The bag featured retails for $1,330.

Proenza Schouler

Founded by two friends who met in design school in 1998, they collaborated on their senior thesis collection which was bought in its ENTIRETY by Barneys New York. I'm sold.
The name comes from combining their mothers maiden names. Sold again. They have been nominated numerous times for awards and won the Womenswear Designer of the Year award in 2007, which they were nominated for in 2006 and 2008. Almost every celebrity you can
think of probably owns this bag. The bag featured retails for $2,350, but luckily their prices start at $950
...for a wallet.

Reed Krakoff

Reed (I love that name) has been the President and Executive Director at Coach for thirteen years and previously worked at Ralph Lauren for five years. He launched his very luxurious line in 2010 and continues to run the Coach line. His style is more on the neutral side (love that too) and can be somewhat masculine. Prices range from $450 to $1,500. While Coach has been coming out with some impressive designs,
I am in awe that Mr. Reed Krakoff is doing so well with both lines.


Though they only launched last year, but they have quickly entered the luxury world by storm and looks like they are here to stay. The company is owned by an entrepreneur who is passionate about leather and design. And the leather and detail IS beautiful. Prices range from $165 to $450. And might I add that I am impressed with what I've seen on

Andrea Valentini

She studied interior architecture and her work has been shown in galleries all over the world. After she successfully mastered interior design for decades, she launched her handbag line in 2007. She very recently began a women's wear line, but is only made to order. The bag featured is called 'the gracie' and has been selling out quickly. It starts at $277, which is a price point that many can be happy with.

Elie Tahari

He was one of the first designers to open a boutique in 1974 on Madison Ave in New York City. Though he sold his share to Theory in 2003, he has made quite an impression in the fashion world. The bag featured consists of super soft leather, brass hardware, fits perfectly on the shoulder, and has pockets for your necessities. It is simple, yet elegant and retails for $598. I think these bags are timeless.

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