No fashion designer these days can overlook the value of accessories in a collection. Not only to complement and enhance their clothing ranges, but increasingly as with designer handbags, to make an individual style statement on its own.
In the category of leather handbags, trends on the Spring/Summer 2012 catwalks were clear to see. When it came to shapes, still very much in evidence was the hand-held clutch. Whether it was dainty and feminine like a Jason Wu original or larger and more functional such as a Victoria Beckham example, the flat envelope form was everywhere. Clearly, the clutch is a style we are going to hold on to for a while.
Other popular shapes in leather bags at this year's collections were structured satchels, boxy retro handbags, large bucket bags, baguette, and messenger bags. There was an emphasis on holding the bag close that led generally to shorter straps and rigid handles. Crossover body straps continue their popularity.
The more casual shape of the backpack combined with luxury styling and haut couture sensibilities produced interesting designs from Alexander Wang. His large cigar-shaped designer bags worn strapped to the back caused a stir at New York fashion week and it is likely this theme will be picked up in new leather bag designs as the season progresses.
The colour palette for the new season's leather handbags is varied. Nude is the colour of the moment in handbags as well as in clothing and shoes. However, if you prefer bolder shades, there is plenty of choice this season. Leather handbags in teal, berry, canary, grape, and hot tangerine colours were paraded down the runway in New York and London. Another huge trend adopted by many leather bag designers was the two-toned colour way. Leather bags just got a lot more colourful. Why has one shade, when you can have two? May be even three? Marc Jacobs, Victoria Beckham, Derek Lam, and Diane von Furstenberg all sent bi-coloured bags down the catwalk.
It is the sumptuous detailing that we love so much in our designer leather handbags, and this season's collections do not disappoint. The use of wooden handles and camera-case bags at Proenza Schouler will undoubtedly catch on, as will the extensive soft leather fringing in the Marc Jacobs handbag collection. The ram's head clasp of the Derek Lam clutch was a big hit in New York. Gold chain straps synonymous with Chanel remain popular, as do floral designs such as Moschino's dramatic print bags. Python is still the exotic leather of choice, with Chanel, Guess, and Louis Vuitton including some fur detailing on their products.
So there you have it, a comprehensive summing-up of where handbag trends are headed in the near future. Enjoy!