The simple sheath demands a striking purse.
These particular statement clutches will bring all the pizzazz you need to your evening look. Furthermore, your keys, wallet, lipstick, foundation, cellphone charger — yep, all of it — will fit into your evening bag, too.
Where does it come from?
Charles Arpels, one of the founders of the French luxury accessories company Van Cleef & Arpels, is credited with bringing the jeweled minaudière, or early version of the clutch, to society ladies and actresses who walked the red carpet during the 1930s gilded age of glamour.
Clutches have expanded and contracted through the decades. And, it seems, the more robust the economy — think the Roaring Twenties, the excessive ’80s, and the blinged-out 2000s — the more dainty the evening bag. Our economy doesn’t dictate hem lengths, or purse sizes for that matter, but as fashion continues to be inspired by the 1930s, larger clutches remain popular.
Well, why are they bigger than the typical clutch?
Philadelphia architect-turned-fashion-designer Conrad Booker decided he wanted his handbag collection to be more proportionate to real women’s bodies.
“I found it hard to grasp that women who are full-figured and tall carry evening bags that looked too small,” said Booker, a former Philadelphia Fashion Incubator designer-in-residence. “It was awkward and unfair to them.”
What else makes these bags special?
Booker fashions his clutches from cool materials, like denim and the same hair you would use for extensions. He even uses a certain kind of leather that can be written on like a chalkboard. That’s fun.
Real talk: How much will these bags cost me, and where can I get one?
Booker’s clutches range from $400 to about $1,600, depending on the material and craftsmanship. They are available in Philadelphia at Shop Sixty Five and Bus Stop, as well as at Linda Golden in Haverford Square.
What about a reasonable facsimile?
You can buy a fashion clutch anywhere. My favorites: Target, Nine West, Bloomingdale’s. But you won’t find one of these because Booker’s designs are one of a kind.
Would Elizabeth carry one?
I did. I went to a swanky event Monday night in New York. My dress was hot pink — complete with peplum — and I borrowed one of Booker’s denim, paint-splattered clutches. Admittedly tough to carry in a crowded room, but definitely a conversation starter.