Friday, 3 October 2008

Question of the day: What have handbags got to do with newspapers?

I know. Do you?
Handbag heaven
By Leah Greengarten

Thursday, October 2, 2008
ANTIBES, France: As dawn breaks a golden brown over the French Riveria, Caroline Calabria, owner of the Vintage Art Gallery, is often one of the first arrivals at a local market.
She combs the jumbled stalls for vintage handbags because, she says, "People in this area are renowned travelers, so I can find bags from Argentina to Africa and anything in between."
Calabria's shop, just a year old, is sandwiched between a hairdresser and a little French restaurant on the cobbled pedestrian street of Rue Thuret. But during the summer high season, it displays 600 or more bags - this season mostly clutches, but it all depends on what she finds.
Calabria says she always has loved handbags. At first, "I brought vintage handbags for myself and then after years of collecting and lots of bags, I had this idea to open my own store." She moved from Paris to Antibes five years ago - "to increase the collection, so I could be closer to the markets."
There is a small collection of vintage clothing at the store entrance. Miranda Richardson, a Londoner, bought a parrot-colored 1960s frock this summer and says she "loves it so much and wore it all the time on holidays in Ibiza."
But the rest of the three-room shop is just handbags. There is every color of the rainbow and all the dark hues of the ocean, as well as the smell of old leather.
"Crocodile bags have been really popular this summer," says Calabria - they range from €150 to €500, or $210 to $705.
As for designers, it has been "Chanel and Louis Vuitton," she said. "I sold a '70s vintage sports bag by Louis Vuitton this morning for €1,200."
Richardson's mother, Madeline Richardson of Grasse, France, bought a handbag at the shop earlier this year. "I really love my crocodile clutch bag," she said. "It's elegant and classic and it was good value for money, too."
With no Web site, no telephone number and just a brown paper bag with the word "vintage" hanging on the front of the store, Calabria says that kind of word-of-mouth has been her most powerful marketing tool.

International Herald Tribune
New York Times

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