Fairy tales of leather purses

There’s someone I’d like to tell you about. She is an artisan. She makes beautiful bags. She is Clare Vivier. These are the two that I have:

The Navy Messenger Bag and the Gold Flat Work Tote, respectively. I’m also sporting a new coat (on the right) that I love and got on big-time sale. Pardon my dusty mirror, but I sort of liked the effect it gave to the photos.

Before I go on, I want you to know that you can purchase one of her bags very inexpensively at the Target Red Hot Shop (Be quick about it, though, because the first edition of this bag sold out in 3 days, and we’re already almost through day 2 with this version).

So, how did I get to know about Clare Vivier? It’s a story… and here we go!

I saw this perfect navy blue bag in the September issue of Real Simple Magazine, shortly after relocating to New York, and I could not get it out of my mind. I showed it to my sister, to my girlfriends, to my boyfriend, to my mom, to everyone that would tolerate it. The price tag read $240. For me, that’s an arm and a leg. I had never spent more than $95 on a purse (and even that was a big stretch at the time). All spring and summer, I had been trying to find my Baby Bear’s porridge of a purse – not too big, not too small, not too flashy, not too boring – just right. This bag, from L.A. based Ms. Vivier, was the one.

I hoped that this would be the kind of bag that would remain classic and stylish for the next 20 years – and would last me just as long. Because this is not actually a fairy tale, I’ll admit, I did have one small problem with the bag – I wear my purses on my shoulder and the handles on the bag didn’t quite look long enough to do that. Another dilemma was this: the bag was not sold in any stores in NY, at the time it could only be found in California. I would have to order the bag online, without first being able to try it on a hundred different ways and stuff it to see how it would look filled. I decided I would call the company and ask about handle-length details and if there was any way I could look at the bag in real life before purchasing.

This is where it gets a little more fairy-tale-esque. One afternoon, I’m settled on the couch, drooling over the bag a little more and I make my call. “Hello, this is Clare,” I hear through the phone. WHAAAAT? I was NOT expecting this mega-talented bag designer to answer the phone herself, and I must have sounded as unprepared as I felt. I stammered and stuttered and felt like I was tripping over my feet while sitting down. I’ve never spoken to someone who makes such beautiful things before. After I battled through my idiocy, Clare graciously answered all of my questions and informed me that she could have the handles custom-lengthened for a small fee. Amazing. And then she told me that she was coming to New York and I could stop by her hotel to look at the collection. You’re ready to tell me I’m kidding, but I’M NOT KIDDING. We made arrangements and said goodbye, and I proceeded to sit, dumbfounded.

Fast forward two weeks, and I’m approaching the strangest, most modern, and swankiest hotel I’ve ever seen. As if the entrance wasn’t confusing enough (totally unlabeled), I struggle to find the elevator, and am whisked up to the upper floors. Clare’s in a room with her friend and she has all of these gorgeous bags laying on the bed. She’s friendly and dressed amazingly well. The Messenger Bag is as beautiful as I had imagined and I also notice this beautiful metallic tote that can be folded into a clutch and I just want to snatch it all up and run run RUN. But then I recall that Clare has generously offered up custom services and remember that I’m lucky to be meeting this person for whom I have so much respect and admiration, and I figure I should keep my sudden thieving impulse at bay. The whole experience passed in a blink. Talk about top notch customer service, the woman personally showed me her bags. A dream.

Fast forward a few more weeks and I have my Navy Messenger Bag. It has long handles that fit perfectly over my shoulder, and it goes with everything…everything, and I have worn it nearly every day that it has not rained or snowed. Fast forward a little bit more and I’m opening a Christmas present to see the blindingly metallic gold Flat Work Tote, “I DIDN’T THINK ANYONE WOULD ACTUALLY GET ME THIS!!!!” I had put it on my list, but figured I’d be stuck buying it for myself sometime after I had paid off my credit card bill. So now my messenger bag is my weekday, work-appropriate purse, and my gold clutch is what I sport on the weekends and evenings.

I have gotten many many compliments on my bags, from friends and strangers alike, and I smile proudly and say thanks for each one. However, I cannot take any of the credit. I’m not sure if she knew she was doing it, but Clare earned herself a lifetime loyal customer. If she keeps on making purses that are simple and completely beautiful, I will keep on buying them. I thought about keeping it all to myself because her bags were such an amazing discovery, but if I’m going to single-handedly keep this woman in business, I’ve got to start telling people. So that’s what I’m doing. GO! PURCHASE! BE HAPPY!! Wear your Clare Vivier purses with pride!

20 thoughts on “Fairy tales of leather purses

  1. Aren’t her bags just the best? I have the blue messenger and the patent leather red tote (2007) and get people stopping me on the street to comment on my cool bag and style (of which I have none without those bags– seriously!) What a sweet post. I couldn’t agree more. GO CLARE!

    • Thank you! They are amazing, but you already know I thought that. When I wear my bags around, I feel about 100 times more stylish… instantly.

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    • Thanks, lady. I am so glad I splurged, and I’m already counting my pennies for my next Clare Vivier purchase.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this! I have wanted that messenger bag for a while but I had the same issue with the handles! Now I’m planning to contact her and hopefully purchase that beautiful bag.

    • She was so wonderful about it, and you will be THRILLED with your bag. The longer handles are just right for me, so I’m glad I took the extra step to have them customized.

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  7. I have been considering the messenger tote bag, but I too would like longer handles. What handle length did you end up with for your bag? Also, it has been a while since you purchased your bag, how does it look and do you still love it? :)

    • Thanks for reading, Kat. I got the 8″ drop (just like the longer-handled Trop). It’s nice to be able to take the strap off and throw it over my shoulder.

      It’s true! I can hardly believe it! I’ve had that bag for two years now and it has definitely weathered the storm. The color has aged a little. It looks loved and lived-in. It, along with my other Clare Vivier bags, is still in heavy rotation. It’s my go-to casual, need-to-carry-plenty bag. In fact, I’ve considered getting another, in a different color… but I’m not totally insane (yet) so I’m resisting. Short answer: YES. I sill love it.

  8. Hello! Googled the bag and found your site. I was wondering, do you have any issues with the dye from the bag transferring to your lighter-colored clothing? That’s the one thing I was worried about a suede dark-colored bag. Thanks for the review!

  9. Pingback: Q+A: Clare Vivier « REASONABLY SO

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