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The pulse on purses

The J.P. Tod bags aim for a casual but luxurious look   
CNN's Elsa Klensch checks out the latest in handbags
Windows Media 28K 56K
July 17, 1998
Web posted at: 12:01 a.m. EDT (0401 GMT)

From CNN Style Correspondent Elsa Klensch

MILAN, Italy (CNN) -- The structured, medium-sized handbag -- a clutch, tote or one tossed over the shoulder -- is the new direction for fall and winter.

Gucci's Tom Ford, Shizue and Diego Della Valle say the new look is classic, sophisticated and always structured.

The neutral-colored bags are crafted mostly in fine quality skins such as python, crocodile and calf.

Della Valle built his reputation with his sporty J.P. Tod loafers that articulate a casual but luxurious lifestyle. He is now creating bags with the same feel.

"My philosophy is to try to work for the best quality," Della Valle says.

This season, the designer creates three major looks, the shopping bag, the tote and a new bag he's calling the "press" bag.

"It's very minimalistic, but very, very rich inside," he says.

Shizue experiments with geometrics and creates a sculptured look   

Shizue is a Japanese-born designer who says she loves creating sculptural handbags. She lives in Milan and has been designing her collection for three seasons.

Her bags have clean, easy lines and geometric details, especially circles.

She says when she designs, she thinks about the close relationships women have with their bags.

"Because it can really tell the person, the personality," she says. "It can really reveal a little bit of the person's life."

Shizue says her bags have to be very practical and light. She says they should be designed, but "not too strange."

"I don't like handbags sticking out from the body. I like when it fits the body."

Gucci brings back the classic red and green strap   

At Gucci, Tom Ford believes in reinventing the classics with a contemporary twist.

"One of the things that we're showing on the runway is a reintroduction of our red and green stripe, which was one of our staple bags in the '60s and '70s," he says.

The designer says Gucci is also showing a lot of lace bags.

"Lace over satin, cut in what is one of our classic shapes, which is the hobo bag. Which is a soft bag, a zipper and a webbing strap."

Ford says that while he believes classic black and brown bags will always be in fashion, a touch of soft color is fresh.

"The bags are in black and brown as well as amazing shades of crocodile, pale blue, aqua, tourmaline, citrine, pale blush pink and fuchsia."

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