NOTEBOOK FROM PARIS
FALL WILL FIND SEVERAL FRENCH FASHION HOUSES GETTING IN ON THE HANDBAG HYPE.

Byline: Miles Socha / Robert Murphy

PLAYING CHARADE
Givenchy, not yet well known for its accessories, hopes to change that with the introduction of Charade, a signature handbag with an interchangeable handle, much like a wristwatch that can be transformed with multiple bands.
“It’s very functional, because the worst thing for a woman is to change a bag during the day,” said Christina Zeller, Givenchy’s accessories director.
The bag, which features a sleek magnetic closure, will debut in Givenchy boutiques worldwide this August, starting at about $580 for a black suede model with a matching strap. The body also comes in black leather, beige lizard or black crocodile with a magnetic top closure. Customers can chose from 23 different straps that easily click into place and are priced from about $110 to $440. Glitzier strap options include versions in pave rhinestones or argyle-patterned Swarovski crystals.
Zeller said the Charade style is the cornerstone of a big push into accessories for the house, which has until now sold bags primarily at travel stores and duty-free shops.
“I think we have big potential for accessories,” she noted, singling out handbags, shoes and sunglasses as the top categories.
The sentiment was echoed by Givenchy president Marianne Tesler, who said, “We have a very ambitious growth goal for the company, and accessories will play a key role.”
Although the company would not disclose figures, Tesler said accessories represent about a quarter of Givenchy’s consolidated sales, a figure she intends to grow to one third by the end of 2002.

LOEWE’S BOARDING PASS
Madrid-based Loewe in September will launch its new line of handbags, which a spokesman described as the company’s “most important non-leather-goods launch in years.”
Crafted in water-resistant canvas and trimmed with leather, the bags have a travel feel and are named after some of the world’s major metropolises, including New York, London, Madrid and Tokyo.
Ranging in price from $285 to $445 and created under the supervision of designer Narciso Rodriguez, the square handbags with long shoulder straps come in two color combinations, white and black or blue and gray.
“They are reminiscent of flight-attendants’ bags,” said the spokesman.
The line also includes suitcases and small leather goods, and will be available in Loewe’s 80 stores, as well as at retail chains such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

LA CAGE DE CARTIER
Cartier is joining the handbag fray with a three-model collection called Cage, which features a rose or yellow gold handle that, when open, spreads into an ornate semispherical configuration.
Available in calfskin, neoprene and leather, or screenprinted with abstract lines and the Cartier logo, the line will debut in Asia and Europe and in select West Coast Cartier boutiques in the fall and will roll out to the rest of the U.S. in early 2001. Retail prices range from $900 to $1,200.
“Other houses can be fashion plates, but we wanted to create something more timeless,” said a spokeswoman. “We wanted to be the jeweler of handbags.”
Picking up on that idea, Cartier recruited famed Paris embroidery house Lesage to decorate one of the bags with an elaborate pattern of vintage paillettes from the 1920s and gold pearls. The Lesage bag will retail for $3,050.

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