Italiano all the way

I have a handbag obsession. I rationalize it as the most effective form of therapy, but the truth is I just love bags. While there are designers whose visions of handbags have sent me over the moon, I have also had amazing luck by changing up my bag shopping ways: I’m shopping Italiano.

Not Gucci (but I adore Gucci) and not Pucci (love you too, Emilio). Instead, I’ve been on the lookout for “no-name” Italian designers whose work shows up on ebay for so ridiculously cheap, you can pick up a bag often for less than a price of a pizza! The allure of quality materials, stitchwork and hardware at such reasonable prices can drive me into a drool-inducing hours of window shopping via computer.

One lovely designer is Marino Orlandi, whose vision includes alot of bucket bags, but I was fond of this red, lovely crossbody who showed up in my life awhile ago for only $10. I love the crocodile imprint on the leather, and the Kelly-style silhouette is a classic that keeps me interested, no matter the season. I’ve paired this with a purple sweater, dark jeans and black knee high boots in winter and loved the red-purple pop.

One trick to searching ebay is to use generic terms such as “Italian leather” or “soft leather” as your keywords, that’s how I found this red lovely. If you’re open to new designers, and the possibility of some amazing quality leathers, you’d be surprised what this kind of keyword search can yield. Now sort your list by lowest price, and you’ll find the uber bargains right on top.

And don’t forget to click the box to “search descriptions” too. This alone can help you find lots of items that fall through the cracks, and therefore often don’t get bid against.

“Italian leather” keyword searching was exactly how I found my summer crush by Italian bag designer Cecconi Piero. Isn’t this pretty? It’s velvety soft, glove leather and just puddles when you set it down.

It all started on a vacation to Colorado in June when a painted leather bag caught my eye in a store window, but the $170 price tag kept me from nabbing it on the spot. But it haunted me, as only a collector can be haunted. However, when I saw this painted leather beauty by Cecconi Piero on ebay? I knew I’d found my replacement. This was only $40 and although it’s from a season ago, it’s in nearly pristine condition. On Piero’s website, his handbags average 260 Euros (roughly $360+) so I was particularly proud of my shopping prowess.

Here’s another trick to finding great ebay bargains: check for misspellings. For example, the Cecconi Piero logo looks like “Ceoni” Piero to the untrained eye. As a result, many bags get listed under this typo, and also do not get bid against because of it.

…And, it has ladybugs! Ladybugs have been my theme since the beginning of summer, when I began doing ladybug totem meditations, so seeing them here on my bag pleases me greatly!

Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 7:51 am  Comments (2)  
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A date night look

Date nights come around for my husband and I about every 6-8 weeks, and whenever they do? We live for the time we can spend paying attention to each other for a change, and to keeping our AllSpark alive (see? the kids are already creeping in again!)

Aren’t we adorable? Together for 19.5 years now.

Date night for me means a night to get dressed up and wear something pretty, for my man… and for me.

It’s a favorite ensemble of mine, and was deemed blog-worthy by several fashionista, Bravo Whore friends of mine. So, let’s take a moment to pull some items out of my closet!

The “Ariba” dress is by Diane von Furstenberg, and I rarely get a chance to wear it unless it’s the dead of summer because it’s a lightweight silk which was perfect for 98* weather that day. I’ve paired it with periwinkle tights and a black DVF cardigan for a theater outing last Spring, but that’s the only time this one’s seen the light of day besides mid-summertime. Its silk weight is light as air, and the cumberbund tie band fits snug on the torso, but loose on the stomach, making it so easy to wear, even if you’re sitting in a theater seat for a few hours after a big dinner.

The shoes are Dolce & Gabbana, they’re velveteen with rose print, an ebay treasure I nabbed several years ago for under $50. Here’s to having big feet! Sometimes, size 40s and 41s don’t get bid against as much. Always ask your seller to measure the insole if you’re bidding an item and uncertain of the fit. On average, look for items with .5″ longer insole than your own footprint.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m more of a bag girl. Here’s a purse pr0n shot, with two of my favorite things, to go with the shoe pr0n shot…

…henna and a great bag. My henna design (done by me, of course) is hard to see in this light, but the bag sure isn’t. It’s a Balenciaga City bag in the color called Ink (a tongue-in-cheek reference that it was bought with earnings from my freelance writing). Another amazing aspect of this color, which has never been offered again since Balenciaga used it in 2006: It’s purple in daylight, but tends towards black in low light, or at night. Because we were leaving mid-day, it was an easy day-to-night piece to carry.

Nice close up on the DVF rose print material too, by the by. You can see the periwinkle.

Hubby took this one before we left, a nice look at my hair, makeup and jewelry. I’ve given up on my hair (except for keeping it red) with the rationalization that people pay big money for Brazilian blowouts to create hair as straight and lifeless as mine is naturally. Hubby is a fan of bangs, and of me wearing my hair down, so….

Makeup was light, since our date began at 3 p.m. but I winged the eyelids a bit with black eyeliner. I made the “statement necklace” from 3 other necklaces I already own (I’ll be blogging more about the necklace, I promise). And, I matched it with a gold tennis bracelet, a pearl dangle bracelet in gunmetal, and crystal & gold hoop earrings.

If you could smell Chanel No. 5, you’d have my entire look for the evening encapsulated right here.

We had a blast too, I’m already counting the days until our next getaway.

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 8:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mulberry for Target? Not lovin’ it

Well, it was in all the fashion magazines that I read, but it wasn’t until juniorgoddess, one of our beloved Bravo Hos, posted about it that I stopped long enough to pay attention… Mulberry (oh so beautiful, oh so costly, oh so precious) beloved English Mulberry came to Target to create a line of handbags.

And I rejoiced upon hearing the news, with visions of PVC Bayswaters dancing through my head….

And then I looked it up on Target’s sight, and noticed that the only remotely Bayswater-y designs was the one that came in pink leopard. Or black patent. Hmmm. Wasn’t feelin’ it for the denim version, either color. 

But today I waltzed into our local Target and happened upon the bags themselves, or what our store had shipped to them anyhow. The pink leopard was hideous. The only black patents were the tiny bags (I don’t do tiny). And the pebble faux leather tote? I picked it up, fingered it, wanted to like it, wanted a reason to go for it… but the hardware had MULBERRY FOR TARGET stamped all over. And the look of the faux leathers? Cheap. Like… “cheapy creepy” kinda cheap.

Oh well. Better off without another bag in my life anyhow. Besides, we need to catch up on bills. Thank you, Mulberry for Target, for making sure I didn’t spend any more than necessary today.

Published in: on October 11, 2010 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

2009, a look back

I had a few homemade photo ops this year, but I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of my (good & bad) outfits from this past year. 

This was from last winter, and it was the winter I used this Dooney & Bourke almost nonstop. Black Annalisa leather, I thought it sounded like my name. Here’s a black kitty sweater with Levis, that are too loose. Tighter would be more flattering. And (dusty!) black Michael Kors suede booties. (Our dog is such a camera hog, ain’t he? Getting in my shot, sheesh).

This spring, I fell in love with Hermes’ Birkin bags. But I don’t have $10K to spend on a bag (yet). So this cute inspired (Never Counterfeit!) Birkin became mine and here I am taking it out for errands. Levis are too loose again. Can’t see them, but I thought my Vans shoes with Chinese dragons were the bomb. The dog chewed them shortly after this pic was taken. This New York and Co. olive blazer is another go-to item of mine, especially with the boyfriend look so prevalent this year.

My first Chanel! A vintage double flap in black patent, which I save for special occasions. This no-name leopard dress is a favorite, I wore it a lot this spring and summer for dinners out. The leopard shoes are cheapies, but I love how the black patent detail on the toe sets off the Chanel’s black patent. Usually I’d shy from matching a leopard dress with leopard shoes, but something about the color change makes it work, in my mind. Love Thy Flap!

Never wore this outfit, actually; the dress is too tight, but maybe next summer I’ll feel differently. Those Chanel inspired shoes get me so many compliments, and I love my white Jimmy Choo which I used a lot this summer. Let’s not forget the cutest “accessory” of them all, my youngest.

Got this killer Marc Jacobs Softy Tote last summer too, and here I am on the day it arrived. It’s rarely taken out though because it weighs over 5 pounds when filled! I carry the baby, I don’t need to carry my handbag-baby too. I threw the olive blazer (mentioned previously) on for the picture. Too hot to wear it out that day. But it dresses up a camisole and jean shorts real fast and easy. White Candies wedges… another victim of the dog’s teeth. I rarely leave shoes out, but if I forget even once? Forget it.

My anniversary gift! The vintage Chanel tote in black lambskin. I’ve not yet worn it out of the house, I’m petrified of using it while out with the kids. I know this phase will pass once the toddler becomes a boy, but for now? It’s an art piece. The Banana Republic top, which I thought was Missoni-esque, became an instant favorite for the fall, and I loved it with this Charter Club skirt I had from last year. Paisley skirt and strong patterned top? Sometimes fashion risks pay off and actually work!

Loved this outfit so much that when my birthday present arrived, an orange Birkin inspired leather bag from my favorite Italian bag maker, I used it to show off the orange colors of the clothes with the POP of a bag. This bag I used for over a month straight this fall; typically I change bags nearly daily. I’m allowing my face to stay in this pic, even without makeup, to show off the new Chanel frames I got this fall as well. I live in these glasses. Love love love!

People think you can’t wear orange without wearing orange colored clothing, but here I am in gray, navy and black palette clothing, and the orange bag pops the somewhat drab colored outfit. New York and Co. paisley skirt, Alfani blazer, and cheapie gray, suede midcalf boots. The only color palette I couldn’t rock orange with were pastels.

 Alright, it was my birthday and my face underwent makeup therapy, so here’s a full shot of me and my birthday DVF dress, with an Oscar de la Renta black blazer over it, before leaving for the theatre and dinner with hubby that night. A rare occassion, to be kid-free! I celebrate by wearing some high heels, and bring out the beloved Chanel flap. The cheapie heels have red soles, but they’re not those red soles. Also, I did my hair in a French twist, with a spill of curls from the top. Easy and pretty! 

 The dress is a gorgeous and slinky jersey knit that just hugs the body and feels so comfortable. The assymetrical shoulder was another big trend this year, but for me? I was all over the animal print and the DVF style. On trend or not, I’ll wear it for years to come. The jewelry was a set of pretty topaz stones, and matching earrings.

Here’s an October day and I’m goofing around for my Bravo girls, showing off my new Rachel Zoe oversized sunglasses. Christian Dior houndstooth blazer, Tommy Hilfiger jeans (back in my pre-pregnancy jeans! ones that fit!), Colin Stuart black suede booties. I’m seriously working it, with kid leather gloves, blingy bracelets and the fox fur scarf my best friend gifted me. I went to breakfast and then out to buy tires that day, but damn. Didn’t I shut the tire place down?

And that’s it for 2009! More blog posts in 2010, and until then… stay beautiful, you gorgeous people!

Published in: on December 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Who is Jimmy Choo?

 Jimmy Choo’s journey from Malaysian shoe maker to founder of a multi-million dollar accessories company is inspiring, no doubt about it.

 In 1961, Choo was born into a family of shoemakers, and describes his ethnicity as part Malaysian, Chinese and Hakka. By 1986, Choo had graduated from Cordwainers Technical College in London, and set up his own workshop in an old hospital building in East London.

 After an impressive, 8-page layout featuring Choo’s shoes in Vogue magazine, his sales grew exponentially until his marketability sky-rocketed when Diana, Princess of Wales began wearing his shoes from 1990 onwards (as pictured).

 In 1996, he co-founded Jimmy Choo Ltd. with British Vogue accessories editor Tamara Mellon, but five years later Choo sold her his 50% stake in the company for £10 million. More recently he has focused his efforts on the exclusive Jimmy Choo Couture line produced under license from Jimmy Choo Ltd.

 The Jimmy Choo London line, also known as Jimmy Choo Ready-To-Wear or, simply, Jimmy Choo, has flourished under the executive guidance of Tamara Mellon, who expanded the ready-to-wear line to include accessories such as handbags to delight fashionistas around the globe.

Published in: on October 26, 2009 at 7:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chanel’s classic flap handbag, a short history

 For Chanel devotees, there is one handbag that outshines them all… the flap. The iconic handbag was first issued in February 1955, and is often referred to as the 255 or 2.55 as a result.

 Every design element of the original had a purpose behind its inclusion — the lining’s color represented the convent’s uniforms, where Coco spent part of her youth; the chains of the shoulder straps represent the waist chain belts which the nuns kept their keys upon; the leather’s quilting references racetrack boys’ quilted uniforms, and her love of horse racing; she hid love letters in the zippered, interior compartment inside the bag’s outer flap; she kept money in the exterior pocket, and even the “Mademoiselle lock” was named after the unmarried Coco, called “Mademoiselle” until the day she died.

In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld took over as Chanel’s Chief Designer, and introduced the interlocking CC turnlock to the bag’s design. By the mid 80’s, Chanel bags were produced with serial numbers included inside each bag, as a way to discourage counterfeiters. Other major changes during this era were the change from double flap to a single flap, as well as the inclusion of leather woven into the chain links of the shoulder straps. New sizes, and new leathers and fabrics were introduced in subsequent seasons as well.

 In February 2005, Lagerfeld reissued the classic flap design with all of Coco’s original detailing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the handbag’s debut. In handbag parlance, these bags are referred to as “Reissues,” while Lagerfeld’s CC turnlock versions are known as “Classic Flaps.”

To this day, the Chanel flap remains one of the most recognizable handbags in the world, and is synonymous with timeless elegance and pratical luxury.

Chanel bags, Jacqueline Kennedy, Mia Farrow

A classic then, and now.

Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Another “butt ugly” purse

Our beloved Bravo ho dolittle spotted this lovely while out doing what hos do best (no, not that… I meant shopping!)

This lovely was found hanging on the rack at TJ Maxx and can be hanging on your shoulder for only $99. As dolittle remarked, it does indeed look like “an animal wearing buttless chaps.” Click the pic to get the link to the designer, although her other works simply don’t compare to this stunning example.

Does it come with a shovel for picking up after it?

I can smell the farm just looking at it.

That is one hot mess…. (Discuss!)

Published in: on October 16, 2009 at 7:28 am  Comments (3)  

tPF 4evr

This is perhaps the most brainless blog entry ever, but if by some chance you love purses and handbags, and you don’t know about this website, then today’s blog is for you.


The Purse Forum, aka “tPF” as it’s abbreviated amongst users as well as ebay listings, is hands down the best forum and resource for handbag devotees, like me. They have many subforums set up for the devotional love you have for your brand of choice (be that a premier brand like Hermes, Chanel or Louis Vuitton, or the more affordable designers such as Coach, Kooba, Ignes and *so* many more).

And the authentication advice at this website is worth more than words can say. I have seen so many people helped out by the expert advice of collectors and professionals, and so many thousands of dollars saved from buying fakes and counterfeits, be that from online sources or from consignment finds.

And as if it weren’t enough to have purses to the end of the day, they’ve got lots of subforums just for fun — the Beauty Bar, the Glass Slipper, Arts and Crafts, the Jewelry Box… more than I can even begin to list, and with tens of thousands of members, you can be sure there is so much material to peruse, you’ll be back daily just to hang out and indulge in your handbag cravings with others who understand and share your compulsion (like… me! Yes, I have been a tPFer since August 2008).

I might be a forum junkie, being a writer and all, but you should also be sure to check out tPF’s sister websites, The Purse Blog  and The Purse Blog Savvy, not to mention the fun to be had over at Bag That Style   where the celebrity bag watching opportunities are full on.

Published in: on October 3, 2009 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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OMG… really?

I can’t help but bring this one to the blog, it’s straight from’s blog today and it’s quite possibly the worst example of a purse I’ve ever seen. Seriously….


Do you think they were thinking about what they created, or did this just happen by some horrendous, Freudian accident?

…Can you imagine what it would have looked like if they had added fringe?

…What if they followed the trend for studs this fall? Maybe it would have looked like a purse with a pierced -ahem- girly part?

To quote the Zoe-inator, “I…, Die!”

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 2:19 pm  Comments (6)  

Louis Vuitton’s Logos

Those Victorians, they loved to travel.

Travelling was the sign of a well-made Victorian man, it encompassed the modern view of one’s self, the ability to boast of where you’d been. In the height of the travel bug boom of the late 1800’s, Louis Vuitton Malletier (“Louis Vuitton Trunk Maker”) opened in Paris in 1854. As the ability to travel grew affordable and dependable, the luggage trade sky rocketed and Louis was there to meet the demand.

The Louis Vuitton reputation grew quickly, sparking imitaters to copy the designs of their rival, and thus beginning the quest to stay one step ahead of the counterfeiters ever since.

 Louis and his son Georges collaborated in 1888 to create the Damier canvas design in Ebony, one that is still in use today, in both men’s and women’s bags.

  It’s also available in Azur, a color many women prefer to carry (especially in warm months when wearing white).

 The next pattern, the Monogram Canvas, released in 1896 and is, arguably, their most popular ever. The design incorporates the Victorian Japonisme/Oriental trend in the flower designs within the pattern and has remained perhaps the most counterfeited logo in the handbag industry to date. The deepest irony here is the fact that the pattern was created over a century ago to handle the counterfeiters of those times as well.

Buyer beware, in any century.

Published in: on August 10, 2009 at 7:15 am  Leave a Comment