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NEW YORK — Stacey Lapidus relied on editorial instincts for her first handbag collection.

Best known as Vanity Fair’s effervescent, girl-about-town contributing accessories editor, Lapidus points to her five years at the magazine as the reason she’s extra-finicky about fabrics, trims and hardware.

“Being an editor is a radar for me,” Lapidus said. “I know when I see something that has potential. After five years of looking at beautiful things, I was inspired to do my own thing.”

So tonight, the 31-year-old designer is launching a 14-piece namesake collection with a party at Soho House. The line is tailor-made for women like Lapidus: out and about at the city’s best parties and always accessorized with a perfect handbag and pair of heels.

A Great Neck, N.Y., native, Lapidus had always aspired to be a fashion editor and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduation, she took a job at Kate Spade, who was then still in the early stages of building her handbag empire. That experience cemented her love for all accessories.

Lapidus is also the creative director of Bagborroworsteal.com, the designer rental handbag Web site that was launched last June by her brother, Lloyd, and his brother-in-law, Greg Pippo.

She counts Edmundo Castillo, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Balenciaga and Elman among her most adored shoe designers and labels, but she is hard-pressed to narrow down her handbag favorites. “There are just too many that I’d love to name, this article would be too long,” she quipped.

For her own collection, she started studying her favorite vintage handbag shapes and hunted down the best fabric and trim stores in New York for inspiration. Embroidered leaves wrap around the top panel of one clutch, while another, one-of-a-kind style is adorned with Lapidus’ own vintage jewelry. The clutches come in leather, linen and suede, some with a metallic or distressed finish.

The handbags range in wholesale price from $200 to $500, while made-to-order pieces start at about $300 — and the sky’s the limit depending on a customer’s wishes, she added. Lapidus said it was too early to project sales, but noted that she was hoping for a six-digit figure.

This story first appeared in the January 10, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

She credits her enthusiasm to the two Vanity Fair fashion directors, Elizabeth Saltzman and Anne McNally. Having worked once for Kate Spade is an irony that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Lapidus. Spade, too, was an accessories editor before starting her own collection of handbags.

“Kate and Andy [Spade] have created the most incredible business,” Lapidus said. “Of course, I would aspire to do the same.”

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