Favourite gateway bags
For those who notice their taste in handbags getting progressively more expensive, but refuse to join the luxury handbag club, fear not. This next batch of brands will make you feel like you're already a member.
When it comes to making a good impression, the Ignes Ormala in Whiskey is my steadfast secret weapon. The perfect bag for taking on the titans of industry, the Ormala revels in the details, going so far as to offer an elite engraving service that many luxury handbag labels wouldn’t think of offering. Lovely to behold, the Ormala is the perfect solution for anyone who’s ever dreamed of owning a Hermes Birkin without having to pay the equivalent of a luxury car.
Current obsession for fall:
The tinted wine Chiara in supple cowhide is the perfect accompaniment to autumn. Heart-stoppingly beautiful, this roomy, ultra-soft bag trimmed in antique gold is large enough to hold all your essentials yet surprisingly light. I’ve been eagerly waiting fall’s arrival ever since.
I fell for the ladylike charm of California label Treesje after coming across their Garden bag in gray. Cute, wrinkly, tough yet majestic, I lovingly refer to it as my elephant bag. Sporting chain-link handles, one might think I’ve strayed into the territory of the Chanel handbag. Not so. With its silver hardware, bountiful ruffles and thick luscious leather, the Garden bag strikes the perfect balance between femininity and strength.
Possessing spunk, utility and a D-I-Y flair, San Francisco designer Alison Burns is a kitten caught in a cobra’s throat. Her highly covetable handbags are sweet, playful, with just the right amount of ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude. Made famous by Cameron Diaz, the "Atomic" with its simple shape and punky details makes this bag so right now. A rock n’ roll stylist-turned-designer, Burns creates bags for gals who don’t see tough and pretty as mutually exclusive.
More purses on the next page
Although I tend to avoid "it bags," the Kale Tate is one handbag phenomenon I can’t resist. Inspired by a vintage shirt, sisters Jennifer and Leslie Kale have created an instant classic in this roomy functional bag. For those who covet the YSL Muse but can’t hack the pret-a-porter price tag, their larger version, the Tate Grande, is the perfect compromise, offering plenty of purse for a fraction of the price.
The understated appeal of hip, New York label Anna Corinna provides a welcome change in a sea of conventional totes and hobos. With its vintage style hardware and unique shape, the Jet Setter Jr. in glazed black never fails to provide that extra jolt of professional polish to fake your way through any situation.
My introduction to Belen Echandia was born of pure serendipity. Based out of the UK, I worshipped the "Take Me Anywhere" in petrol from afar until I could no longer deny our heated long-distance romance. A classic beauty for the ages, its luxurious, unfussy ease had me longing to make our relationship official. After enduring a long journey from London, my fears were quashed the moment I spied this handbag in the flesh. With its sleek leather and sublime silk ribbon lining in fuschia, the Take Me Anywhere is just as beautiful inside and out. Startlingly luxe, the leather draws comparisons to a Balenciaga, but joyously, without the Balenciaga price.
Current obsession for fall:
Belen Echandia’s "Love Me" is lightning in a handbag. It struck me dumb when I first laid eyes on it and I’ve never quite been the same. Designer Jackie Cawthra gave up a successful law career to take up the handbag cause and indeed, the world is a better place. Having searched high and low for the perfect purple bag, I finally have my happy ending. With sultry good looks resembling a cross between a Balenciaga City Bag and a Jimmy Choo Ramona, the relentless longing I’ve experienced for Belen Echandia’s newest offering confirms the fact there might be a handbag that could make an honest woman out of me yet.