Friday, June 24th 2011

Packed In: Best Weekend Bags

In the summer, there may be nothing sweeter than a weekend away from the city heat. I like to take only what I need, packing versatile, layering-friendly pieces that won’t bulk up or weight down my luggage. I just picked up a new LeSportsac suitcase (perfect carry-on size!), and while browsing Shopbop’s designer weekend bags, I was struck by the chic options for overnight carryalls.

I was first drawn to the Sara Berman Hortense bag. In sleek haircalf, it’s an unexpected take on the weekender. JADEtribe has an equally unique offering, albeit on the other end of the spectrum. Their patterned Nicole bag has an earthy, globetrotting vibe. From a rugged duffel by Alternative Bags to slouchy, soft classics from Marc by Marc Jacobs, there’s really no reason a woman’s travel tote can’t be as stylish as the rest of her wardrobe.


Monday, June 6th 2011

Back in the Pack: The Return of the Fashion Backpack

At left, Shopbop Fashion Director Kate Ciepluch at Coachella.

During my semester abroad in Paris, there was a girl in our group who had one of those little fashion backpacks once so popular among the trio of ladies on Friends. She was wearing it after the mini-backpack heyday had come and gone, and I remember thinking: “Really? A fashion backpack?”

Yes, really. A fashion backpack.

It’s hard to say if she was behind or ahead of the curve back then—style tides are cyclical things—but if she wore her little black backpack today, she’d be right on-trend. I’ve been eyeing up the Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Backpack for everyday. Not unlike my Paris pal’s Prada, the MMJ bag is large enough to carry a few essentials, but would be too small were I still toting a La Societé Française textbook across arrondissements. For the music festivals on my summer agenda, I’m taking a page out of Fashion Director Kate Ciepluch’s book. She made her way through the Coachella sun with a slouchy, utilitarian Alternative backpack.

And if you’re not quite ready to go back to the backpack, brands like Linea Pelle and Alexander Wang (the Addison and the Marti styles, respectively) have smartly made their knapsacks convertible.


Thursday, May 12th 2011

Hands Off: The Mini Messenger Bag

Pictured (clockwise from left): Cross-body bags by Rebecca Minkoff, Alexander Wang, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and Botkier.

I’ve long seen messenger bags as a purely functional means to lug around a lot of stuff (my beat-up canvas cross-body bag stands as proof). But with messenger bags shrinking in size and growing in style, they’re becoming less utilitarian-looking and more like a hands-free version of the classic handbag.

A black leather 3.1 Phillip Lim bag makes the traditional satchel easier to handle, while a Rebecca Minkoff bag, with a long chain strap, is a relaxed version of a ladylike shoulder bag. Alexander Wang revisits the structured shoulder bag as well, adding a forward silhouette and rose gold hardware, while a bright, snake-print Botkier bag will give your favorite clutch a break on a night out.


Friday, March 18th 2011

Lake Bell & Botkier: A Stylish Match with a Charitable Slant

Botkier handbags
founder and designer Monica Botkier has made it a tradition to team up with celebrity friends to benefit Oxfam International, a charity dedicated to fighting poverty across the globe. This season, Botkier collaborated with actress Lake Bell in an exclusive design available only on Shopbop. We talked with the designer about her work with Bell, her past collaborations, and the importance of supporting Oxfam.

Shopbop: What made you decide to collaborate with Lake Bell, and how does her style align with the Botkier aesthetic?
Monica Botkier: I am a huge Lake Bell fan. She’s a native New Yorker like me, and we vibe on many levels. Lake has a fantastic aesthetic and her style is strong, effortlessly cool. Botkier is all about high design and function meets fashion. Lake really wanted to use beautiful browns and neutrals with sleek but quiet hardware—nothing too frilly! We both love ’70s vintage and created this silhouette that is both fresh and classic.

SB: Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the bag’s design.
MB: Creatively we were in sync immediately. We talked about designing a bag that wasn’t too big, and could be easily worn cross-body but also had a top handle. Very ’70s inspired. Vintage and modern that will look more beautiful the more you wear it. She really loved the idea of colorblocking, which is totally on-trend.

SB: This is not the first time you’ve paired up with a celebrity to benefit Oxfam International. Past collaborations have included Michelle Trachtenberg, Minnie Driver, and Joy Bryant. What has made each collaboration special?
MB: These women are incredibly talented and dynamic and want to give back. This Botkier x Oxfam collaboration is the perfect way to express ourselves creatively and work with people we respect while doing something good! Each of these celebrities has a unique point of view and style that I really admire.

SB: Why do you feel Oxfam International is an important organization to support?
MB: Oxfam is a global reaching charity that fights poverty, focusing on women and environmental issues. Right now, in particular, I feel there is a need for outreach on this level.

Monday, March 14th 2011

Spring Handbag Must-Have: Canvas & Leather

Lighten up for spring. A wardrobe full of lightweight fabrics deserves a bag with a similar sensibility. Canvas handbags anchored with touches of leather are perfect for bridging the seasons, regardless of your personal style.

Classic Prep
There’s so much more to classic canvas bags than monogrammed totes. The Rebecca Minkoff tote above sports nautical stripes and a ladylike silhouette, while Madewell’s olive and brown version (also pictured) gives off a whiff of academia. And the Tory Tote by Tory Burch is perfectly in line with the season’s predilection for pops of color.

Urban Explorer
Even if your longest expedition is a few city blocks, J.W. Hulme Co.’s rugged bags, handcrafted on the banks of the Mississippi River, will handle the slog in style. Olivia Harris by Joy Gryson takes a forward approach to this look, with canvas wrapped in a tangle of leather straps (pictured).

Downtown Chic
If the thought of swapping your leather bag for canvas scares you, look no further than Alexander Wang’s linen-and-leather Alpha Shopper Bag in black-on-black. Roomy enough for an afternoon of shopping, it’s perfect for girls who refuse to let spring’s sunny days part them from moody shades.


Tuesday, December 14th 2010

Winter Forecast: Sparkling Accessories

With its frost, tinsel, and sparkling lights, winter is a good time to shine, so once those halls are decked, cast a dusting of wintertime glitter on your wardrobe, too.

Let’s be honest: Cinderella and Dorothy would never have made it if they’d been wearing brown flats. Rhinestone lovers, turn to Vera Wang and Report Signature Shoes for a range of megawatt footwear that’ll stop you in your tracks. Sequin and glitter girls, look to Giuseppe Zanotti and Jean-Michel Cazabat for options worthy of a fairytale princess.

When it comes to shimmery bags, Whiting & Davis’s metal-mesh creations are the classic evening bag go-to. If you’re looking for something a little roomier, Diane von Furstenberg and Tory Burch bags offer high-impact sparkle in high-performing shapes.

Any quest for serious sparkle must begin with jewelry, and Kenneth Jay Lane, Madewell, and Juicy Couture jewelry is nothing if not shiny. If you’re more of a light frost than a heavy ice girl, a Deepa Gurnani headband or a crystal-encrusted Michael Kors watch will cast just the right amount of light.


Monday, December 13th 2010

The Perfect Winter Handbag

Last summer, I was never parted from my cross-body Foley + Corinna bag. Lightweight and little, it was the perfect partner to all my summer dresses and rompers. But the moment the mercury dropped, it was retired to my closet, and now I need to swap it for a more substantial bag that can hold its own against my winter wardrobe. Though my oversized black handbag would fit the bill, most of my winter outerwear is black, and I want something that won’t blend into the background.

So I’m looking to handbags in rich cognac and wine, shades that pull off the feat of being both classic and of-the-moment. A deep shade of brick balances the fashion-forward silhouettes of Alexander Wang bags with a subtle ’70s feel, making them perfect for polished ensembles, like silk blouses paired with flare jeans and wedge booties. But for more casual days, when I’m wrapped in thick knits and shearling boots, a fur-trimmed handbag (like the above from Olivia Harris by Joy Gryson) will be a plush finishing touch.


Thursday, November 11th 2010

Soft & Supple, Playful & Cool: Jerome Dreyfuss Handbags

Jerome Dreyfuss in his Paris studio.

For Jerome Dreyfuss, handbags must first be practical. Playfulness comes second, and beauty comes naturally.

From his sun-soaked studio just off Paris’s Place de la Bastille, the designer explains his inspiration: architects like George Nelson and Jean Prouvé, who approached form by way of utility. Dreyfuss does the same, designing his handbags from the inside out—thinking of what the women who wear them need to carry and letting that inform the aesthetic.

Dreyfuss got his foot in the door of the fashion world working with John Galliano in 1995, just as the British designer was arriving in Paris to work with Givenchy. “He told me he was looking for someone to carry the fabrics, and I said, why not?” says Dreyfuss. After leaving Galliano for a two-year stint with Elite Model Management, Dreyfuss launched his first collection of ready-to-wear apparel in 1998, but the lifestyle proved to be more than the designer wanted, and after six seasons, Dreyfuss stopped designing clothes.

Handbags from the Jerome Dreyfuss spring/summer 2011 collection.

It was a redefining of priorities for the designer sparked by the birth of his son (with wife Isabel Marant), and this family-work balance continues to guide his decisions. “First of all, I want to have a private life,” says Dreyfuss. “And after, there is my job. My job is not before my life.”
Dreyfuss designed his first handbag—Billy—in 2002, in the era of the It bag. To hear him tell it, the decision was almost a whim, a reaction to the non-bags his artist girlfriends were carrying in defiance of the logo trend. Having never designed a handbag, Dreyfuss started the same way he sketched his dresses. “And then it came out, and it was really soft and really supple, and it was an accident, of course,” he says. “And I said, oh my god, that would be cool—supple, light bags.”

Cool does not quite begin to describe Jerome Dreyfuss handbags. Unassuming silhouettes in buttery leathers and skins give way to playful colors and mixed patterns. Dreyfuss calls his designs “chewing bags,” after the brightly colored bubble gum (the French call it “chewing gum”) popular among American adolescents. And each carryall carries a male name because, says Dreyfuss, of the fortunate position bags hold on a woman’s body. “In carrying Billy (during the design process), I thought, I would love to be a handbag.”

A lineup of rich cognac styles, also from the spring/summer 2011 collection.

This charming buoyancy of spirit, coupled with the beautiful handcrafted workmanship and Dreyfuss’s own ideals, will help this brand endure. “I’m not thinking too much about trends, about who is wearing what,” says Dreyfuss. “I’m just trying to please my friends. That’s it. They’re the girls I’m working for.”
The designer aims to fill out the closets of these friends. Dreyfuss designed a leather jacket because he noticed all his friends were wearing the same basic black style, and next season he’s working on one-of-a-kind sunglasses painted by some of his artist pals. Dreyfuss hinted at shoes, but said he would approach them only when he was ready. “My answer is just to do what I feel when I feel it.”


Tuesday, October 26th 2010

Black Handbags: The Wardrobe Workhorse

Three styles from the new Pour La Victoire handbag collection.

Brightly colored bags: playful and fun. Handbags in bold, autumnal hues: so rich (see Alexander Wang bags in shades of mustard, whiskey, and oxblood). Yet, there remains nothing quite as time-tested and wardrobe-essential as a classic black handbag. Styled downtown edgy, like Pour La Victoire’s first foray into carryalls, or sweetly ladylike (Temperley London and Tory Burch bags come to mind), the black bag slides seamlessly into nearly any ensemble.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m currently carrying a slouchy cognac Kooba bag, but I know it won’t be long before I transition back to my trusty black Botkier.


Thursday, October 7th 2010

First Fashion: Handbag Heaven

Dannij (1) Foley (2) Jeronimo (3)

The Holy Grail of handbags? A carryall that’s both functional and packed with personality. Lucky for me, in today’s What’s New there are three bags that fit the bill.

(1) With its globetrotting, just-back-from-the-medina vibe, this roomy backpack is the perfect day bag for now and is sure to be a music festival staple come spring. DANNIJO – Moroccan Backpack

(2) I’m not sure I’d be able to pull off a faux or fur jacket, but this shaggy shearling is the next best thing. Foley + Corinna creates the perfect tactile complement to tweed, suede, and thick knits, and a detachable strap lets it be worn two ways. Foley + Corinna – Mongolian Lamb Bag

(3) The structured shape and rich cognac color of this Jerome Dreyfuss handbag brings out the subtle ’70s vibe of a white blouse tucked into flare jeans. Jerome Dreyfuss – Bob Hobo


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