Loewe’s ‘Puzzle’, ‘Hammock’, ‘Flamenco’ and ‘Paseo’
Creative director Jonathan Anderson has masterfully positioned Spanish brand Loewe in the sweet spot between quirky and cool, and his accessories are always the most covetable. From the origami-inspired ‘Puzzle’ bag, which is crafted from asymmetric panels of supple leather and can be styled in five different ways, to the cleverly designed ‘Hammock’ bag, the flexible sides of which can be collapsed or expanded to create a variety of silhouettes, there’s a playfulness to all Loewe accessories. The ‘Goya’ bag, launched in 2021, and its ‘Paseo’, which debuted on the Spanish brand’s SS23 runway, are already modern classics – much like the ‘Flamenco’ clutch, which first launched in the ’70s and is still going strong.
Chloé’s ‘Marcie’, ‘Penelope’ and ‘Woody’
For beautiful bags with boho charm, Parisian brand Chloé is a fail-safe investment. Celebrating its equestrian roots, the brand’s ‘Marcie’ debuted in 2010 with a saddle-like silhouette and piped leather stitching. Today, it comes in a super-wearable mini size, and has also been reworked in a neat baguette shape with tonal hardware and a tasseled pendant that nods to the original. The ‘Penelope’ is more playful, with a fold-over shape traced with braiding and swishy tassels; while the large logo-embroidered ‘Woody’ tote has all the space you could need – whether you’re hitting the office or, indeed, the stables.
Balenciaga’s ‘Le Cagole’ and ‘Hourglass’
Looking for investment arm candy with a little edge? Look no further than the instantly recognizable cult styles from Balenciaga. The ‘Hourglass’, which dropped for fall/winter 2019, riffs on the curvature of house founder Cristóbal Balenciaga’s ’50s basque vests. Whether it’s a top-handle tote or a chain-strap shoulder bag, the sculptural silhouette will sharpen any look.
The curvier ‘Cagole’ is a reinvention of the brand’s 2001 ‘Motorcycle’ bag, a biker-inspired smash hit from the 2000s designed by Nicolas Ghesquière, which quickly found itself nestled in the crook of many an It-girl’s arm. The ‘Cagole’ has had a similarly warm celebrity welcome, with Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Dua Lipa and Sydney Sweeney among its fans. Featuring the same biker-style studs and rivets as its predecessor, the ‘Cagole’ leans into the nostalgia and Y2K trend with a dangling zip pouch and heart-shaped mirror.
The Row’s ‘Sofia’, ‘N/S Park’ and ‘Half Moon’
Since it launched back in 2006, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s brand, The Row, has become a byword for understated luxury. To own one of its achingly cool, minimalist designs is to join a club of sorts, recognized only by the most sartorially literate. The handbags, beautifully crafted from fine leather in Italy and stamped with the most discreet, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it logos, are a perfect example of this stealth-wealth aesthetic. The ‘Margaux’ tote – a classic saddle, top-handle style thought to be named after Mary-Kate’s former stepdaughter, Margot Sarkozy – is perfect for those looking to lug their life around (there’s certainly space for a change of clothes). Or, for something daintier, try the New York-based brand’s ‘N/S Park’ tote, which now comes in a scaled-down size, or the elegant ‘Sofia’ top-handle bag, which is about as classic as they come; pair with straight-leg denim, loafers and cashmere for a timeless look.
Bottega Veneta’s ‘Jodie’, ‘Sardine’, ‘Cassette’ and ‘Andiamo’
Bottega Veneta’s signature intrecciato weave remains one of its most long-standing house codes, making its logo-less bags instantly identifiable to those in the know. This is particularly striking on the rectangular ‘Cassette’, which features a blown-up take on the leather-working technique – opt for the padded iteration for a more pillowy power look. The knotted ‘Jodie’ bag has achieved cult status since it debuted in 2020 as part of the brand’s resort collection. It is said that the name was inspired by a photo of actor Jodie Foster shielding herself from the paparazzi with a large black Bottega Veneta bag. It has since clocked up many celebrity fans of its own, including Dua Lipa and Hailey Bieber. Since Matthieu Blazy took the Bottega Veneta helm in 2021, he’s scaled down the weave to super-chic effect. The ‘Andiamo’ tote is effortlessly sophisticated, while the ‘Sardine’ bag (a supple pouch that gets its name from its golden fish-shaped handle) is swimming off the shelves.
Valentino Garavani’s ‘Le Troisième’, ‘VLogo’ and ‘Rockstud’
From its instantly recognizable Rockstud collection to the Toile Iconographe monogram that was painted on models’ faces by Pat McGrath for the spring ’23 runway and now comes splashed across flocked-canvas ‘Le Troisième’ totes, plus the shocking yellow ‘VLogo’ style, a Valentino Garavani bag is always sure to get you noticed.
Jacquemus’ ‘Le Chiquito’
Much-loved for its irreverent handbag designs, Jacquemus is a firm favorite with fashion insiders – and the brand’s ‘Le Chiquito’ bags are easily its most popular creations. Aptly named after the Spanish word for tiny, ‘Le Chiquito’ comes in a neat, boxy shape with an artfully twisted handle – and has been Insta catnip since it launched as part of the brand’s La Bomba resort collection in 2018. In addition to the original ‘Le Chiquito Noeud’, there’s ‘Le Chiquito Mini’ (the smallest of the designs), the medium-sized ‘Le Chiquito Moyen’ and a stretched-out silhouette, ‘Le Chiquito Long’, which has a curved grab-handle. Available in leather, raffia and even bouclé finishes – as well as myriad colors – it can be difficult to choose just one.
Alaïa’s ‘Le Coeur’, ‘Le Mina’, ‘Le Papa’ and ‘Khaima’
The late Tunisian couturier Azzedine Alaïa approached the body as a sculpture, crafting his masterpieces through fabric, cut and silhouettes. His brand’s handbags are similarly finessed: the laser-cut ‘Le Mina’ sits like a piece of art on your arm, while the heart-shaped ‘Le Coeur’ crossbody is perfect for date night or as a gift for a loved one. ‘Le Papa’ takes its name from the term of endearment Naomi Campbell used for Azzedine, who was a close friend – it was designed last year by Pieter Mulier, who joined Alaïa as creative director in 2021, and is already a modern classic.
Gucci’s ‘Jackie 1961’, ‘Dionysus’, ‘GG Marmont’ and ‘Horsebit’
When it comes to handbags that stand the test of time, few do it better than Gucci – in particular, its bestselling ‘Jackie 1961’ style, which has been a must-have since the 1960s. Named after former First Lady and style icon Jacqueline Kennedy, the bag had a modern makeover for the house’s FW20 show and counts Jodie Turner-Smith and Cate Blanchett among its fans. Taking its inspiration a little further back is the Gucci ‘Dionysus’, inspired by the Greek god of wine, fertility and pleasure, and marked by its signature tiger-head closure. The ‘Dionysus’ immediately became a house staple when Alessandro Michele took the reins at Gucci in 2015, alongside the ‘GG Marmont’, which launched the following year. Of all the bags in the Gucci stable, though, we have our eye on the ‘Horsebit’, which the brand brought back just a few seasons ago but is already a cool-girl favorite – just ask Sienna Miller and Adwoa Aboah.
Saint Laurent’s ‘Niki’, ‘Loulou’, ‘Le 5 à 7’, ‘Kate’ and ‘Icare’
Looking to inject your wardrobe with a touch of smoldering Parisian cool? Saint Laurent’s beautifully crafted bags will elevate even the most pared-back outfit. The ‘Loulou’, for instance, is an elegant and endlessly versatile shoulder bag, the name of which pays homage to the friendship between Saint Laurent and Loulou de la Falaise – one of the legendary designer’s closest collaborators – and works as well with a linen shirt, jeans and pumps as it does a party top and heels. Alternatively, there’s the ‘Le 5 à 7’ style, first launched for spring 2021, which feels particularly timeless in the black patent ‘Mini’ iteration; or last summer’s capacious ‘Icare’ – Saint Laurent’s chic, supersized answer to a shopper. Très jolie.
How to take care of your bags
1. Store handbags to maintain their shape and protect the fabric
When they’re not in use, leather handbags should be stored away from any light source to protect the pigmentation and finish of the leather. You can achieve this by storing it in a dust-bag when it isn’t in your regular wardrobe rotation.
It’s important not to store handbags hanging by their handles, as this can distort the handle’s integrity over time. Structured handbags should be stored empty – even ones you wear frequently – to give them the opportunity to air out. Less structured bags can be stored with crumpled paper inside to help maintain their shape and avoid creases.
2. Use maintenance products with caution
Leather cleaners and moisturizers can be an effective way to renew handbags at home and preserve them over time. That said, it’s important to ensure that the product you’re using is suitable for the treatment, pigment and finish of any given bag.
You should never use leather cleaners or moisturizers on ink or grease stains, as these products can make them worse. When in doubt, enlist an expert at The Seam. For bags that you use regularly, an annual professional clean is a good idea.
3. Don’t wait around for needed repairs
When handbags begin to show signs of wear, acting quickly on these services can reduce the cost. Some of the most common handbag services performed at The Seam include refinishing scuffed leather surfaces and repairing cracked piping.
The sooner the damage is addressed, the simpler the fix. It’s also true that scuffed leather is more prone to permanent stains, because the seal on the leather finish has been broken, so bringing it to a specialist before continuing wear is advised.