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Bagging a gem this Christmas

Confident shoppers are plucking discreetly-styled and beautifully-crafted bags from the most unlikely shelves this season, writes FUNKE OSAE-BROWN.

Bags 1

Tomi Oni was at Selfridges London recently in search of bags that are not ubiquitous. As a very discerning woman, she has an extraordinary appetite for well-crafted pieces. She knows the brands and leather quality by name. It is deliberate she did not go to the regular store to purchase the kind of bag she wants. She is seeking a quality in material, know-how and luxury that goes beyond what many ready-to-wear brands can offer. She prefers a fine jewellery house where she can get luxury craftsmanship. And so, she opts for a clutch from Chopard and a bag from Cartier.

There is something refreshingly discreet about buying a bag from a fine jewellery house. Popular brands like Bulgari, Asprey, Cartier and Tiffany are at the forefront of luxury craftsmanship. They are all lending their reputation to leather handbags. The demand for their craftsmanship is growing, noticeably.

Consumers, who ordinarily would not buy a bag from jewellery labels because they buy from stand- alone shops owned by brands like Céline, Lanvin, Chanel and Hermès, now prefer vintage pieces manufactured by the likes of Chopard.

Seun Adelugba, who got a silk Bulgari evening bag and a small burgundy leather bag by Cartier more than 10 years ago, says the durability of the bags drove her to purchase more. Hence, she quickly discovers the benefits of owning bags that were not ubiquitous.

“I still wear both of these bags till today. You know these days you see your daughter’s friend carrying the same Chanel bag as you. Wonder why? For me, an evening bag from Chopard is both vintage and different,” says Adelugba.

Some of the rare pieces to collect this Christmas include Chopard’s bags, The Caroline (prices from N584, 648.03) and the small-enough-for-night Mini Caroline (from N411, 979.96), both have a zipped construction and nod to Chopard’s signature heart symbol on the clasp. They are named after Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele, Chopard’s co-president and creative director. The Mini Caroline comes in crocodile, pony and leather, and colours such as red or ecru fabric with brown leather. Chopard’s latest offering is the leather Imperiale clutch; the quilting echoes the dial motif of the Imperiale watch.

Likewise, Cartier’s Marcello handbag is an out of the ordinary bag to have. This exceptional Marcello de Cartier leather goods collection pays striking tribute to Cartier’s unique and classic style. Precious leathers are fashioned from python, crocodile and water-snakeskin and calfskin suede, honouring traditional methods of craftsmanship. Signature features of Cartier’s premier leather goods collection include openwork, topstitched corners and charms bearing the “double C” logo.

A limited edition collection, it comes in burgundy varnished leather bag, one central zipped closure, one external zipped pocket.

Like Cartier, Asprey has a rich history of making handbags. Asprey has been on the move to ensure that its collection is not widely available. In other words, it prides itself in its exclusivity. If you truly desire that British bag this Christmas, then Asprey’s beautifully crafted, casual Notting Hill tote is a must have. It comes with single knotted strap. It is available in two new interpretations of the classic steamer bag in the Belgravia Darcy and the 1781, based on a design plucked from the archives.

You may prefer the Darcy bag, which comes with a widened base and goat suede lining. Darcy’s Crescent shoulder bag with its supple leather curving up into the strap is great to have. Likewise its Hanover Mini, inspired by the traditional men’s Hanover Briefcase and fashioned from traditional English saddle leather, is not bad either. It can be carried with or without the shoulder strap, making it perfect for both the official or weekend outing.

The Smythson’s 1887 Collection is what can be called elegance, refined and redefined. The 1887 explores a sculpted world of unequivocal beauty. Confidently bold yet undeniably feminine, its exquisite construction and striking silhouette offers a beautiful contrast of sensuous colour and shapes. More than a handbag, the 1887’s curves and lines fit perfectly against the body, adding the finishing touch to its sculpted contours. Elegantly worn on the arm or carried as a statement piece, the 1887 is presented in a palette of khaki, berry and cognac with contrasting panels that combine its bold façade with resplendent light gold hardware, enigmatically tucked away inside its surprisingly spacious interior.

New suede elements are introduced this season, adding a beautiful differentiation of luxurious textures for a unique look for the yuletide.

Furthermore, Bulgari, Icona comes in Cerise red Rossellini shiny alligator skin handbag with brass light gold plated hardware and Rhodonite closure with purple jade twist lock. It has various inside pockets and detachable shoulder strap. It is sold online for N5,024,600.00 ($28,000.00).

In addition, Bulgari’s Leoni collection, based on a 1960s gold bracelet, is a statement piece to carry this period. This Leonis comes with the same fold-over shape and distinctive lion clasp. It comes in satin, canvas and leather, ostrich, lambskin and python. Other striking designs include the Isabella Rossellini. The bag has the appeal of heirloom and tradition. It’ is a heritage bag that you can keep for eternity. You will definitely love it for its shape and the pureness of the embellished hardware, the red hibiscus enamel closure with pink quartz twist lock is an iconic of its own.

And so, no matter what your choice of luxury tote is this season, let colour, shape, quality be central to choice.

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