Fifth Avenue, Rodeo Drive and Collegetown, USA. Designer bags hit campus. Student icons run the gamut fromthe silver screen to dear old Mom.

Bag Ladies

"A casual look with a really cool bag makes a statement," says Eleanor Ennis, a junior at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "It’s an easy way to look classy and elegant."

She’s not alone. For many young women across the country, status bags provide an accessible extravagance. And while some students go stealth, most sport a designer logo. Excessive for the college crowd? These girls think not. "Bags are approachable," says Trinity College senior Katy Kail. "I would be intimidated to go up to the [clothes] rack at Gucci, but not to the handbags. They’re easier." Others embrace

status in the name of quality. "[Designer bags] are really well made," says Stanford senior Greta Braddock. "I tend to trash purses, but somehow these just rebound so well."

Hervé Chapelier is one of the most commonly seen handbags on campus, probably due to its relatively reasonable price and Crayola color range. But campuses also abound with sightings of Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Gucci, Fendi, Longchamp, Marc Jacobs, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent.

On The Other Hand...

Not all eye-catching accessories come with logos and a tony pricetag. Oberlin College student Katie Repp ties her hair up every day with a vibrant ribbon, a touch that has earned her the moniker "Bow Girl." And her penchant for girly accessories doesn’t stop there. Who could suppress a smile when faced with a pair of Kitty Cat shoes? Bravo, Bow Girl!

Shopping On The Quad

Sure they stock psyche books, spiral notebooks and those traditional school sweatshirts. But campus stores across the country carry a whole lot more, from rah-rah Barbies to artsy student- and graduate-designed gift items. And these days, a girl can look trendy while showing school spirit in micro minis that sport her school’s logo.

Icon Worship

Does voting Gwyneth the number-one fashion icon mean that well dressed is in among America’s coeds? It’s hard to argue otherwise. With her carefully engineered classic look, the former UC Santa Barbara student (she left in 1991 to pursue acting) was made for the red carpet. "What I love about her is how versatile she is," says Boston College sophomore Jessie Rosen, who writes a fashion column for her school paper, The Heights. "She can go from Goth to Bohemian. She’s cliché only in that everyone would say she’s their fashion icon. It’s like saying ‘Jackie O’ for my generation."While student entries for their fashion icon ranged from the artsy (German Expressionist cinema) to the philosophical (Jean Baudrillard), the top five closed in on the oft-photographed, omnipresent movie and television celebrities who make the runway their home away from home. But the interesting ranking here was Audrey Hepburn, who serves as a timeless standard. Honorable mentions: Reese Witherspoon, Gwen Stefani and Halle Berry. Just off the radar: "Mom."

*Students were asked: Who are your fashion or style icons?

Kids Say The Darndest Things

"Fashion is fun, not convention. Fashion is not about matching. Fashion is not without risktaking."

—Benguerine Lilia, American University

"Labels are irrelevant."

—Rebecca Bellville, American University

"For graduation I'll make my own dress—out of ostrich feathers."

—Bennington student

"Yes. Watch what I wear—then watch what designers come up with a few years later."

—a Bennington student in an answer to the question, "Do you consider yourself fashionable?"

"Personal expression and individuality are more important than merely following trends."

—a student at Carnegie Mellon

"Really fashionable people are leaders, not followers of leaders."

—a student at Carnegie Mellon

"It's all about conformity here. I used to put a lot more effort into dressing."

—a student at University of Virginia

"They are really comfortable with their bodies. It's a little more sexy than conservative preppy."

—Amy Gardner, owner of Scarpa, a shoe and accessory store serving University of Virginia.

"I'm not much of fashion whore. I wear what I like and I like what I wear."

—Chris Medaglia, SUNY Purchase

"Personal style is not really important with clothing. If it's important to the person, then I'll respect that."

—Erika Decker, SUNY Purchase

"I do not buy by the brand. I buy by the price. I really don't have the money to keep up with fashion.Clothes are too expensive nowadays."—Kathryn Noulis, SUNY Purchase

"I am a hot man."—Holland Rockgarden, SUNY Purchase

Wrecking The Curve

It’s unscientific, unrepresentative of actual intelligence and impossibly culturally biased.

No, we’re not referring to the SAT but the FAQ, WWD’s Fashion Awareness Quiz. Rather than asking respondents to make analogies or count bushels of oranges, the FAQ probes knowledge of burning issues like who designs Louis Vuitton or where Stephen Sprouse sells his wares. We asked more than 2,000 students across the country to match designers to their fashion houses or trendy architects to their buildings and identify Page 6 gossip staples or Philippe Starck designs.

And the results? If you think that a quiz on fashion trivia would be easy as pie, think again. Only a handful returned with perfect scores. Even more surprising was the fact that, of these, none represented those schools dedicated to fashion and design. Perfect scorers included students from the likes of Duke, Northwestern, Yeshiva College and NYU to a number of Ivy Leagues schools, such as Yale, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton. When interviewed, many perfect scorers said they considered themselves highly fashion conscious as a result of both media exposure and personal interest. Their level of engagement with fashion, however, was as varied as their majors. Judy Tomkins of Johns Hopkins University, an economics major, simply "loves to shop," while Faran Krentcil, a student of theater and art history at Duke University, dedicated her senior thesis to fashion.

So what was it about these young fashionistas that threw the curve for the rest of their peers? Aside from a shared addiction to fashion magazines, these students proved to be more than just fashion-savvy; they were culture-savvy. Katherine Peek of Princeton University thought our question on modern architects spoke volumes on consumer culture by placing Rem Koolhas’ Prada store on par with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum. Commenting on the broad range of style and pop trivia covered in our quiz, Krentcil notes: "Fashion cannot exist without culture; [it] is in constant dialog with it. At what point does fashion end and culture begin?"

And so a fashion intellectual is born.—Venessa Lau


1. Gwyneth Paltrow

2. Jennifer Lopez

3. Jennifer Aniston

4. Sarah Jessica Parker

5. Audrey Hepburn

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