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
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
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