Text, Vivian Kelly
Last Friday, I had an unexpected break from teaching and zoomed over to one of my favorite local designer consignment stores, Bring N Buy, to see if I could score a Friday feel good deal. While hanging out with co-owner, Tina Hassenstein, and discussing the upcoming NYFW, I internally mulled over if I really wanted the brown LV monogram bag on the shelf. It DID have the boxy structured shape I love but… I left, sans bag.
Later that day, while at my home office desk, a pitch came in from the HL Group’s Maria Bui, about a special launch event - “Collection 1″ by Mark Cross exclusively for Barney’s NY.
There, embedded in the message was a range of gorgeous little boxy bags as clean and elegant as a die hard Minimalist could wish for.
Mark Cross’s reappearance on the fashion radar screen is interesting on a couple of levels.
Firstly, I’m not sure where Barney’s is headed creatively these days. My last visit during the holidays was a bit dismaying – over-stuffed racks, a shoe sale in which shoes and boots were strewn all over the department rather than contained on racks as they are at Neiman’s and Lord & Taylor. My friend, Anthony Palermo, felt similarly when we chatted about it last month as he bleached out my hair.
That said, a collaboration such as this one is a step in the right direction, something that smacks of “the old Barney’s” of yesteryear, when Gene Pressman was in charge. In the Nineties, Barney’s was the place where you went for fashion items you could not find anywhere else. Their highly edited merch was the reason you went to Barney’s.
Secondly, the bags in the Mark Cross collection have an elegant retro vibe and come in boxy geometric designs. Better still, this accessories company has a wonderful pedigree, thanks largely to its longtime designer Gerald Butler and his wife Sara, who passed away in 1964 and 1975, respectively. The company reopened in 2010.
Thirdly, the brand is associated with one of my favorite fashion icons. One of the bags in the Barney’s exclusive is the modern day version of “Grace Box”, the bag that Gerald Butler created for Grace Kelly to wear in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Grace’s little bag became so famous that the company eventually produced it for their customers to be able to have a little bit of Grace’s “very sleek and classic style” in their life.
Lastly, Mark Cross [and designer, Gerald Butler] have a rich artistic history that spans across several artistic disciplines: accessory design, literature and ballet. Gerald and Sara Murphy were people I would have loved to have met. If the wacky Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLorean Flux Capacitator actually worked, I’d beg him to hitch a ride on it to go back to the Forties and join them for cocktails and a chat about what they were working on next.
Here, a little more of this venerable brand’s history
Mark Cross was originally established as a saddler and harness-maker – bought by the Murphy family in 1875. Gerald & Sara Murphy were good friends with literary legends such as: F Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy Parker. Fitzgerald dedicated his novel “Tender is the Night” to Sara and Gerald. The main characters in the book, Dick and Nicole Diver, are partly inspired by Sara and Gerald. THIS is true-blue glamour, with a capital G.
Debuting exclusively at Barney’s, to arrive in stores by 1/30/12 (Barney’s NY, barneys.com)
Pricing: $1,495 – 2,350
If Mark Cross continues to do more collaborations such as this one, count me in as a Mark Cross fan.