Tuesday, 23 October 2012


I struggle with handbags. I mean, I'm prone to packing my handbag so full of everything but the kitchen sink that I literally struggle with it sometimes and long for a Sherpa to come and lend a hand.

However, the real struggle is to find something that's chic enough to carry a look at work yet big enough to be able to stuff  in it an iPad, a book and the seventeen lipsticks, three biros, a pair of ballet flats and a blackberry charger that I habitually lug around with me. I have a beautiful Gucci bag, bought in a sale in the boutique in Venice about twelve years ago, but frankly, it fits a credit card, a door key and iPhone 4 and nothing else. I have a very pared-down Gladstone-type bag in a dark brown suede that has a Mary Poppins-like ability to contain seemingly endless amounts - I quite expect to discover a hatstand in there one day. I have tiny evening bags and strangely coloured and shaped bags acquired in a fit of over-enthusiastic sample-sale shopping. But you know, I'm not wedded to any of them - none of them says '"This is who I am. This is what I stand for"' as Anya Hindmarch* says the perfect handbag should. None of my handbags has that kind of totemic quality, I'm sorry to say.

However, whilst I'd come to accept that I wasn't the kind of person who wanted a bag to be a metaphor for me, I hadn't quite relinquished the quest for one which properly ticked the 'useful and beautiful' box. And when What's in My Handbag asked if I'd write something about books and beauty, I went slightly into overdrive in my search for the perfect bag - it's all very well showing what's in your handbag, but what of the handbag itself?

What you see in the holding shot of my WIMH  piece is as near to the platonic ideal of handbags as it's possible to get (for me, at least): it's 'The Claudia', a black patent leather tote with 'cavallino'sides which was created by Strenesse to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of stylist and boutique owner Claudia Sebire. Her style signature of wearable modern luxury is perfectly embodied by the bag and it looks as elegant crammed full of all my rubbish as it does when I've been kinder to it and filled it with nothing more than mobile phones and housekeys. Cleverly, it works as hard for post-work cocktail events (with the sides pushed in to create a chic kind of bowling bag) as it does for meetings when it needs to double as a briefcase.

'The Claudia' - Claudia Sebire patent leather tote bag. £675 (I know, I know, but it is really very lovely and as I keep telling Mr Trefusis, the cost per wear over time is almost certainly going to end up being about 20p)

*quoted from The Telegraph, Bags to Riches, Justine Picardie interview May 2012


S said...

Lovely post. And I adore the purse!

Given how purse prices have escalated ever since I moved away from Rome, I do the same - buy a good, everyday purse, as i know i can get a loy of mileage out of it. I love the 20p per use analogy. Though i *do* love the McQueen clutches tee hee x

Unknown said...

I do love your cost per wear calculation. I am constantly doing that (esp. with the new shoes I bought myself for my 40th. In Milan. In Prada)...!

Michelle said...

I came home with a new bag the other day and I said to my husband look at this beautiful bag its amazing, he replied, it's not amazing, going to the moon is amazing, your bag is useful!, men!

Sarah said...

Oh that is totally gorgeous. I have just been onto the website and gazed lustfully at the ruby suede and pony skin version too.