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Ferragamo launches signature fiamma bag

MILAN (AP) - Perhaps the "It" bag's star just burned too bright. Those must-have handbag wonders, which flew out of stores before dropping into sudden oblivion, have given way to something more enduring: signature bags.

Iconic bags have been around since fashion fused with celebrity - Hermes has the Birkin, Fendi the Baguette, Gucci the Hobo, and so on - but now they are becoming a cornerstone of brand strategy, acting as a flagship item. These are bags so exclusive and enduring they have become emblematic of the label they bear.

Ferragamo launched its own entry into the category this week with the Fiamma, named for founder Salvatore Ferragamo's late daughter, who was the force behind Ferragamo's first handbag collection in the 1970s. Designed by Massimiliano Giornetti, the satchel-styled bag takes elements from a 1990s Fiamma Ferragamo design, including a top handle and a locked flap, for a creation meant to be both functional and aesthetically appealing.

"Handbags are something of a collector's item, something you can pass down from generation to generation, so it really has value. It is something that also represents a brand," James Ferragamo, grandson of Ferragamo and the brand's director of women's leather goods, said by telephone Tuesday, ahead of a dinner launching the new bag. "We want to maintain this in our collection for many years to come."

The Fiamma comes in three sizes, from a mini-version appropriate for the evening to a larger carryall, and has many iterations, from leather, python, crocodile, stingray, calf and fox. The price ranges from $1,650 to $27,000.

Ferragamo underlined the intergenerational aspirations for the bag, reflecting the company's three-generational family history, with an online short film project featuring mother-daughter and sister pairings from iconic families, including Mariel Hemingway and her daughter Langley Hemingway Fox, that is posted on the brand's website.

Mariel Hemingway said she had no trouble signing on to the project. She's a long-time fan of Ferragamo, and appreciated the family tie-in and the chance to work with her daughter. The role of fashion in everyday life hit home for the actress and, more recently, mental health advocate during a recent speaking engagement in Washington, D.C., when she kept getting compliments from strangers on her shoes - a pair of two-tone sandals with a silver buckle by none other than Ferragamo - from the decidedly non-fashion crowd.

"The point of fashion is not for people to walk the red carpet. It is so people can live their lives looking fashionable, stylish and beautiful in any realm they work in," Hemingway said.

Hemingway's daughter has been test-driving a mini-black Fiamma, which she said is perfect for her lifestyle.

"I am not the girl with the briefcase. I am the girl who takes ChapStick, a wallet and my phone," Langley Hemingway Fox said by phone from New York.

It's no surprise that brands are honing their handbag focus. Accessories have proven themselves recession-resistant, and the economic traction they give fashion houses is making it more critical for brands to develop an iconic bag, one that "can stand as a brand's flagship item," said Ginger Reeder of Neiman Marcus.

With sales of leather goods the fastest-growing segment in the luxury sector, there is enough room for every house to have an iconic bag, "and most do," Reeder said. Global sales of leather goods, excluding footwear, reached 36 billion euros ($50 billion) last year, nearly one-third of all luxury sales, according to a study by Bain & Co.

Ultimately, the customer will decide which bag becomes iconic.

"I think people want something that endures," said Alison Minton, a fashion blogger and handbag enthusiast who chronicles her passion for accessories on her blog accessorygeneration.com. "I think people don't want to buy a new bag every season, but want a bag that is stylish and well-made and is going to last."

Minton herself has faced the "It" bag temptation. She resisted a friend's offer to pick up the Louis Vuitton Speedy Graffiti bag in Paris back in its heyday - and suffered a pang of regret when she saw the prices that the bag was later fetching on e-Bay.

Her collection now includes both icons and personal treasures, including a Birkin bag, a Gucci bag that her mother bought her in Italy a decade ago and a Goyard tote bag, which she said would now be out of her price range. "Luckily for me, when I bought my iconic bags, things were not as crazy as they are now."

Join the discussion

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pbjclv May 12 2014 at 11:47 AM

Is there no end to a womans vanity?

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VMP3080 May 12 2014 at 8:13 AM

Insane. Even when I was single and at the top of my career I never ever considered making such a large purchase to prance around with any type of designer bag. A thousand dollar business suit? Yep. Never a stupid handbag.

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1 reply
jpfmtka VMP3080 May 12 2014 at 9:23 AM

I agree with the absurd prices of these handbags, however, I would rather drop a grand on a classic, timeless bag rather than a business suit that will go out of style before it no longer fits.

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jgesselberty May 12 2014 at 7:42 AM

Purses, like athletes, are never worth what you pay for them.

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1 reply
thundt1775 jgesselberty May 12 2014 at 9:51 AM

I don't understand the connection.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
IRENE May 12 2014 at 7:42 AM

worked at Macys durning Christmas as Christmas help, and it was an experience.

I worked in the bag department, it was interesting and fun watching the woman go nuts over designer bags.. it was high school all over again, every gal rushing to buy the bag, designer bag, Michael Kor or Coach or whatever everyone else was buying, Expensive, they don't care, they have to have that bag, wow

Even the poor husbands and boyfriends came in last minute with a picture on their cell phones for (that bag) don't come home without it. I had one male customer who came in two hours before the store closed on Christmas Eve. He wanted to buy the bag, there was only one left but the zipper was broken. He didn't care, he said "wrap it up, I want a good evening tonight, she can bring it back after Christmas"

So now there is another hot bag on the market, but my question is, since the gals have been walking around with a bag as big as a suite case, how are they going to go back to a tiny bag?,

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1 reply
yamel86 IRENE May 12 2014 at 11:15 AM

I have what would be considered a "tiny bag". It is a Liz Claiborne and just the right size for my wallet & a container of Tic Tacs......

Flag Reply 0 rate up
thewvawoman May 12 2014 at 7:35 AM

Finally, somebody has come to their senses and realized that women are ruining their posture and overall health by schlepping those humongous shoulder bags around, just to be fashionable.

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1 reply
yamel86 thewvawoman May 12 2014 at 11:16 AM

What's "fashionable" today will the passe' tomorrow.

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Victor May 12 2014 at 6:24 AM

some people have to m uch money

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Lizbarsamian May 12 2014 at 4:36 AM

E.B. There are so any honest homeless people who could use a place to sleep etc.

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2 replies
onionson Lizbarsamian May 12 2014 at 6:24 AM

Yes but purchases like that are mostly the result of a prosperous free market system that also donates more to the homeless than any other system. Would you be OK with that purchase if it was made by someone worth 20 million that had donated 10 million to a charity? How's about a guy in the same situation that bought a $200,000 car? If not you are a socialist.

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1 reply
jgesselberty onionson May 12 2014 at 7:44 AM

There is a difference between a socialist and a realist. How does someone even have the brains to think that a purse is worth $27,000?

Flag +1 rate up
Jo Lizbarsamian May 12 2014 at 8:59 AM

The homeless could have gotten an education...and rise above homeless. There will always be a segment in society that needs help, but the tens of millions on govt. assistant is freeloading.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
pagebassman May 12 2014 at 3:13 AM

$27,000.00 for a purse. What IDIOT would pay that for a purse.

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2 replies
Carolyn pagebassman May 12 2014 at 3:56 AM

A very wealthy idiot. Dahling, when you're strolling along the Champ D'Elysee, (sp), one must look tre chic! The mega-rich live very differently from the rest of us. And, why not?

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thundt1775 pagebassman May 12 2014 at 9:55 AM

Probably Donald Sterling. I imagine he must be out on the prowl again.

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Jeri-Anne May 12 2014 at 3:11 AM

My parents left me at 87 and 85. I was lucky to have such great parents. They left me, their only child, pretty well off, at age 57. I would so much rather have my parents than the money, but that's that, as my dad used to say. I cannot conceive of spending TWENTY SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A PURSE. There's something so wrong about any human being wih a conscience that would flaunt something like that. Worse-there are Birkin bags selling for over ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, used, on Ebay-I had to check it out, I didn't believe it. Shameful. If you have that much disposable income, and spend it on a PURSE you are heartless.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
NICKIE'S PLACE May 12 2014 at 8:39 AM

If it creates jobs and people buy them, why not? If you have the money, go for it.
Of course it's not for everyone.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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