EASY STREET: Karl Lagerfeld has seen handbags become so complicated and overdecorated that he figures some look “like they belong on a mantelpiece, not on your shoulder. They can become too overpowering for an outfit.” Perhaps that’s why Chanel’s quilted leather Cambon bag, arriving in boutiques worldwide starting this week and featuring knotted leather handles, has already received the stamp of approval from the likes of Madonna, Uma Thurman, Kylie Minogue and Elizabeth Hurley. They’re among the international fashion plates who have been spied carrying the Cambon by Europe’s eagle-eyed paparazzi. Named for Chanel’s legendary address, the Cambon line spans nine styles — including a small shoulder pouch, a tote and a utilitarian reporter’s bag with external pockets — all with an off-kilter insignia. None, however, is designed to sit on a shelf.

INITIAL REACTION: It’s not the CFDA, but the Gucci-sponsored INF benefit at BLVD Wednesday will be packed with young designers. Co-chairs ranging from Liz Cohen to Alexandra Shiva and Samantha Boardman have recruited a host of them, including Behnaz Sarafpour, Charlotte Ronson and Peter Som. But they haven’t forgotten some of their more established pals, such as Michael Kors, Dennis Basso and Catherine Malandrino.

This story first appeared in the March 29, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

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