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Irish handbag makers

Updated on April 17, 2014
Hope and Benson handbags are available throughout the world
Hope and Benson handbags are available throughout the world
Nifty little accessories to transform a clutch bag to a shoulder bag at
Nifty little accessories to transform a clutch bag to a shoulder bag at
Detail from ClaraB designer handbags for daywear
Detail from ClaraB designer handbags for daywear

I woke happy this morning and logged onto my favourite newspaper sites to find reports of the glam-fest that is the Golden Globes – who doesn’t love movies, the awards ceremonies, the glitz, the gossip and the ‘who wore what’ excitement of looking at the stars? – and got happier when I spotted the LA Times and Guardian’s galleries and red carpet video interviews.

I spent a cosy time looking at the frocks, the jewellery and the shiny, shimmery accessories that the hot bods took to the party. I have to say that I loved Booth Moore’s take on the style, except for her remarks about Penelope Cruz’s dress. To me, it didn’t age her at all and I loved that the sexy Spanish star chose a Flamenco-style dress that was so modern. I loved the see-through lace that defined her arms and neckline, the elongated bodice of horizontal stripes and the flourish of gauzy layers at the bottom. Jaime Pressley’s outfit, right down to those gotta-have-‘em sandals that I most wanted to try to put together for myself.

I wondered what was going on with Téa Leoni turning up in a shirt and skirt as if she’s just popping into the office, but still got a little thrill to see that she and the smouldering Fox (OK, Californication’s able anchorman) still look so good together.

Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman’s outfit deserves a hub all to itself, as does Perrey Reeves’ slinky black knee-length sheath with the turquoise ‘slits’ but as handbags are my current obsession I spent most of my time looking to see who put what bag with which outfit.

Unsurprisingly, clutch bags were the predominant style, with only Sofia Loren (that I could see) opting for a glamorous tiny purse with a sparkly shoulder strap. Incidentally, if you do have a lot of clutch bags – those tiny purses without straps – have a look at Irish designers Handbag Heaven for a great selection of cheap and cheerful shoulder straps that wrap very neatly and can be stowed in even the teeniest handbags. Another great website to browse through for a wide range of handmade artisan handbags that will set you apart in the fashion stakes and set you back a mere €25 (that’s the baseline price for the smallest), have a look at the Crafts Council of Ireland’s directory. If you’re travelling to a particular county and want to focus on fashion, search in the county and “Textile Making”.

Hope and Benson bags are today’s Genius No 1: A couple of very smart Englishwomen make and market these bags worldwide from a workshop in the wilds of county Leitrim. The bags are without exception beautiful: they’re structured, use fine fabrics and materials in the details and are edgy fashion accessories that are easy to use (hurrah!), have no unnecessary thingummies you could lose during the course of an adventurous night out. This “easy to use” issue in terms of handbags, is not yet another blonde moment. The strap handles on their cute little bags are long enough to hoik over your shoulder even if you have normal size arms. Others makers have invested in equally lovely, durable handles that will only slip over the upper arms of a stick-thin person, so you’ve to mince along carrying the cute little bag much like a prat would.

Clara B craft is today’s Genius No 2: Her bags hail from Norn Iron (the top part of the country, if you’re looking at it from space. As you do). They’re in delicious, happy colours, again in fine fabrics and luxurious accessories such as corsages, pom poms, and lovely pieces of jewellery should you wish. This fashion workshop also makes fab contemporary jewellery.

The handbag hub has made me remember the handbags I already have, one of which has to be chosen for tonight's adventure in Dublin's fair city.


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