Monday, November 16, 2009

These Bookbags Have Got You Covered

File this item under: "Librarian Chic." Stylish Parisians have declared there's nothing more on-trend than carrying a collectible edition of a favorite book. Or at least its cover. One of France's most fashion forward designers, Olympia Le-Tan, has just debuted her premiere line of exclusive handbags under the title: You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover.

Designer Olympia Le-Tan Rings In Her New Handbag Line

The Book (left) and The Bag It Inspired (center).

The collection reproduces the covers of 21 tomes in canvas, embroidered felt applique, and silk thread. The meticulously handmade pieces are assembled over a book-sized brass framework to create clutches sure to capture the fancy of even the fussiest fashionista bibliophile. The books selected for the debut line include English, American, and French novels such as 1984, Lord Jim, The Catcher In The Rye, The Pearl, The Pure and the Impure, and Le Rouge et Le Noir. Actress Chloe Sevigny requested a bag based on Moby Dick and Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton commissioned a special order to commemorate Auntie Mame.

Naturally, one of the bags is especially dear to the book loving designer's heart: "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is my favorite book and my favorite bag." Le-Tan says the line was inspired by book jackets from the 1940's and 1950's, which she first saw in the library of her father, Pierre Le-Tan. In addition to being an avid book collector, Mr. Le-Tan is also the author of numerous picture books for children, and a renowned illustrator whose work has appeared in Vogue, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country, and The New York Times Magazine, as well as on the cover of The New Yorker.

Designer Le-Tan will produce only 16 copies of each title in her line. The rarity of these first editions is reflected in their wallet-draining price tags: each clutch retails for a cool $1500. One can only hope that the buyers who can spring for the bags might also shell out for the books that inspired them. And maybe even get past the covers.

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