Ferragamo launches signature Fiamma bag

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

MILAN (AP) — Perhaps the "It" bag's star just burned too bright. Those must-have handbag wonders, which flew out of stores and into sudden oblivion, have given way to something more enduring: signature bags.

These are bags so exclusive and enduring, that they become emblematic of the label they bear.

Iconic bags have been around since the fusion of celebrity with fashion -- Hermes has the Birkin, Fendi the baguette, Gucci the Hobo bag, and so on -- but now they are becoming a cornerstone of brand strategy, acting as a flagship item.

Ferragamo has launched its own entry into the category this week, the Fiamma named for founder Salvatore Ferragamo's late daughter who was the force behind Ferragamo's first handbag collection back in the 1970s. Designed by Massimiliano Giornetti, the satchel-styled bag takes elements from a 1990s Fiamma Ferragamo design, included a top handle and a locked flap that is meant to be both functional and aesthetically appealing.

"Handbags are something of a collector items, something you can pass down from generation to generation, so it really has value. It is something that also represents a brand," James Ferragamo, grandson of Ferragamo and the brand's director of women's leather goods, said by telephone Tuesday, ahead of a gala dinner launching the new bag. "We want to maintain this in our collection for many years to come."

The Fiamma comes in three sizes, from a tiny one appropriate for the evening to a larger carry-all, and has many iterations, from leather, python, crocodile, stingray, calf and fox. The price ranges from $1,650 to $27,000.

Ultimately, the costumer will decide what bag becomes iconic.

"I think people want something that endures," said Alison Minton, a fashion blogger and handbag enthusiast who chronicles her passion for accessories on her blog "I think people don't want to buy a new bag every season, but want a bag that is stylish, and well-made and is going to last."

That, of course, doesn't mean just one. Minton herself has many favorites in her collection, including a Birkin bag and a Gucci bag that her mother bought her in Italy a decade ago and a Goyard tote bag -- which she said now would be out of her price range. "Luckily for me, when I bought my iconic bags, things were not as crazy as they are now."

Accessories have proven themselves recession-resistant, and the economic traction they give fashion houses is making it even more critical for bands to develop an iconic bag, one that "can stand as a brand's flagship item," according to Ginger Reeder of Neiman Marcus.

With sales of leather goods the fastest-growing in the luxury sector, there is enough room for every house to have an iconic bag, "and most do," Reeder said. Global sales of leather goods, excluding footwear, reached 36 billion euros last year, nearly one-third of all luxury sales, according to a study by Bain & Partners.

Ferragamo underlined the intergenerational aspirations for the bag, reflecting the company's three generational family history, with an on-line short film project featuring mother-daughter pairings from iconic families, including Mariel Hemingway and her daughter Langley Hemingway Fox.

Mariel Hemingway says she appreciates how fashion helps boost her confidence when she appears in front of big groups -- something that hit home when she kept receiving compliments from strangers for a pair of Ferragamo two-tone sandals at a decidedly non-fashion event, a Washington, D.C. gathering on mental health issues, something Hemingway has been working on.

"The point of fashion is not for people to walk the red carpet. It is so people can live their lives looking fashionable, stylish and beautiful in any realm they work in, " Hemingway said.

i have the mini. i like mini bags in black simple min slightly round.

i have a men's wallet and i never really want to carry too much i am not the girl with the brief case back. i am the girl who takes chapstick wallet and my phone.

it is silly bec the amount of things you dont actually use in your bag.