Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pumps & Pleats: Heaven is made of purses and totes

Story and photos by Michèle De Meglio

Picture this: You’re nine years old, walking into a fully-stocked candy shop. The shiny red, blue and green plastic wrappers are calling your name. The hunger is so intense that your eyes dart everywhere, your step gets lighter and your pulse quickens. You don’t know where to turn first but one thing is certain — you must get to that Sugar Daddy pop OR YOU WILL DIE!

That same overwhelming feeling ripped through me when spotting the gloriously candy-colored leather handbags in Hayden-Harnett’s Design Shop in Greenpoint.

Walking into the cozy store is a religious experience for those wealthy enough to purchase luxury goods — and penny-pinchers who ogle the purses on Hayden-Harnett’s Web site and can’t believe they’re seeing the real thing in person. I fall into the latter category, by the way.

During my recent Sunday afternoon visit, my brain went into overdrive and my body froze upon seeing row after row after row of satchels, totes, clutches and wallets — oh my! I couldn’t decide what perfect purse to paw first!

There’s the sleek new Bedford messenger for $188. Made of nylon, the roomy bag offers countless compartments and stylish snaps and buckles. One savvy fashionista left a comment on pleading for interior padding, thereby transforming the Bedford into “the most chic bag for DSLRs.” (This photojournalist totally agrees with that!)

Dropping the Bedford (ever so delicately, of course), I ran to my own personal heaven — a full wall of leather bags.

With its cool colorblock style, the $598 Clara flap bag is a hometown hero among local handbag lovers. In shades of blueberry (just as yummy as the fruit) and moonbeam (an iridescent mother of pearl), the bag is decadent, divine and can make admirers down right delirious with devotion. It’s even adorned with a humongous circular signature lock in seafoam green and orange sherbet shades. So tasty!

The brains behind Hayden-Harnett — designer Toni Hacker and Ben Harnett, who handles the business end — have thought of absolutely everything a true urban gal needs in a fashion-forward yet functional tote.

With a few simple snaps, zips and buckles, many of their creations transform from shoulder bags to clutches or from totes to crossbody sacks.

The most impressive is the über popular Ibiza Convertible Flight tote. For $198, you too can change this baby from a shoulder bag to a sling or fold it in half for a compact companion or even mold it around a yoga mat for the ultimate in inner peace chic. Squeal inducing!

Hayden-Harnett’s top seller is the $498 Havana hobo and it’s easy to see why. It’s made of buttery soft leather, boasts subtle stud details perfect for those who go easy on their trends (a lady never overindulges!), and has a casual slouchy style that suggests, “Yup, I’m cool. I know it. Got this bag to show it!”

My favorite Havana color is called Ginger (also the best Spice Girl!). It’s a juicy shade of orange — and comes with a delightful rainbow print lining. Is there anything better for summer? Duh, no!

The priciest purse in the place is also one of the most fabulous — the $725 Wyeth tote. Combining rich leather and bohemian fringe, the bag is big, bold, comes in cool colors like Eucalyptus and - OMG, I need one!!

Okay, okay, time to calm down. Maybe that’s enough bag hunting for today.

Hayden-Harnett’s Design Shop is located at 211 Franklin Street. For hours, call 718-349-2247.

Michèle De Meglio is a native Brooklynite addicted to all things chic. Check out Pumps & Pleats each week for more adventures as she scours the borough for fab duds and accessories.


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