We all know VBH for their envelope clutches but there is an entire world in their vast collection that is way more spectacular and so luxurious it is almost absurd. As soon as you walk in to their Madison boutique (at 74th St.) you know you have arrived in a special place where special things can be bought. It is an old bank building with super high ceilings and different sitting areas for you to lounge as you mull over your purchases. Who would be so bold and fabulous as to lavish us in such fine fashion?
I had the pleasure to sit down with the man behind VBH at the Beverly Hills Hotel on the Friday before the Oscars. Let me tell you, that was the place to be because everyone was there (he introduced me to his good friend Carolina Herrera!!)! Vernon Bruce Hoeksema, who goes by Bruce, started the line in 2001 to fill a void in the luxury bag market at a time when everyone and their mothers (literally) were using the same bags – the LV, Gucci and Prada’s. He worked for Valentino for 25 years (he started off in fashion as a model, can you tell?), negotiated the sale of which for £211 million in 1998 and finally left after the transition in 2000. He was fully equipped and ready to start his dream collection of bags and jewelry.
After seeing the collection first then meeting the man behind it, it was instantly clear that the vision and aesthetics of the line are entirely his own. It was obvious that he has full control, even if it means not being immediately commercially viable and accessible to the masses. The exclusivity of some of his bags are limited to the few who can appreciate and afford it, which for me is like going to Disneyland, but that was his intention – to bring a new line of luxury that is exclusive and not mired by the centuries of legacy behind it.
I can’t even explain how in love I am with the “Nomad” in blue anaconda (seen above). I am still trying to figure out how I can make it mine but it isn’t meant for the weak of wallet, it is $7990. But if you see the details and how absolutely nothing is compromised from each individual stitch, to the large uniform scales on the skin, to the hardware, you start to appreciate why it has be so expensive. And you might think this is just a slouchy hobo but everything is in the sublime subtleties. The design isn’t just based around a grand piece of pricey exotic skin, the Nomad is casual yet elegant, young and totally hip. The handles are made so it hangs slightly tilting forward for maximum comfort on the shoulder.
The other must have on both mine and Tina’s long list from VBH is the Napsac with studs! The larger leather version is $3500 and comes in a huge variety of colors and materials, including suede and ostrich ($3550 for the smaller size in ostrich). The entire thing opens up into a giant V so you can see and get to all the contents. It even has a zip pocket on the interior side of the straps for keys and other easy to lose items. This is truly casual chic at its best.
Bruce is meticulous and makes no room for short cuts. The detailed fine points in everything he does gives away his education in architecture, something he is still passionate about and actually shows up in his designs. His next venture is shoes and I cannot wait until he reveals that collection, hopefully in the Fall of this year. He is also working on a men’s bag line. Will be finally have a fashionable line for men? My bet is that it will be the most fabulous thing men have seen since the race car.