Sophie Hulme : Bold as brass

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Sophie Hulme, double plate tan tote, £535 (Liberty)

If you’re as obsessed with bags as me, then you can’t fail to have already discovered the beautiful creations of Sophie Hulme. A British designer, graduating in 2007, she set up her own label within two months and the rest as they say is history. Now stocked by all the finest retailers – Selfridges, Fenwick and Harvey Nichols to name but a few, this is the result of huge ambition and excellent design.

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Sophie Hulme Black Leather Satchel, £255 (Selfridges) 

Sophie’s bags are characterised by the brass plates which adorn both the large totes and smaller satchels. They signify genuine luxury, but with a tough edge. I found myself gawping when coming face to face with one on the tube recently. They really are beautiful up close! And it’s not only the bags which have been given the expensive brass treatment – I’ve fallen for this chip fork necklace..it’s somehow elegant and fun at the same time. Amazing!

ImageSophie Hulme, brass chip fork necklace, £60 (Coggles.com)

So, if you’re in the market for something special, but understated, this is the brand for you.

Visit Sophie’s website – SophieHulme.com

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Furnish yourself with a Furla

It may have been a while since we last spoke, but I’m back and I wanted to share my recent handbag obsession with you!

An Italian brand which has been supplying bags, shoes and accessories to the masses since 1927, Furla epitomizes understated cool without being flashy, label-heavy or as expensive as half the other designer brands out there. I love the subtle fastenings and good quality leather they use and so I find myself this season hankering after one of their beautiful bags..

Get yourself down to their Regents Street store for some lunchtime eye-candy or browse online..your choice. Here are my favourites!

(Montmartre Boston Bag, Furla, £370)

(Furla, Equestre Large Top Handle Bag, Saks Fitch Avenue, £614.19)

(Globetrotter Messenger Bag, Furla, £315)

Minty madness

Pastels are everywhere right now, however I can’t seem to quite get my head around wearing baby blue and powder pink – it feels a bit twee.

(Berenice Bejo in a mint green gown at the 2012 Oscars)

However, the one Spring shade I have taken to is mint. Since Berenice Bejo stepped out in a beautifully jewelled mint gown at the Oscars, it’s been taking over my wardrobe rapidly. Mint is beautiful, mint is elegant and fresh and mint is the go-to trans-seasonal colour! Here are a few beauties I’ve spied. Enjoy!

(Koko soft leather ballet pumps, Topshop, £40)

(Lace dress, Zara, £49.99)

(Leather Pippa bag in Mint, Modalu, £195)

Mimi’s beautiful bags

I used to live just off Brick Lane and as anyone who’s into their fashion will know, it’s a haven for new designers, jaw-dropping vintage and the odd crackhead. But I’m not here to talk to you about crackheads, I’m here to introduce you to Mimi!

(Handy Pelham in tan, Mimi Berry, £262)

Mimi Berry is a St. Martins Graduate so that alone should give you an indication as to the standard of her products, but let me give you a bit of a run-down. Starting out in 2001, Mimi set up camp on Cheshire Street, bringing fine leather bags and purses to those of us who had only ever known a cheapo Topshop special.

Now re-housed in Bethnal Green, the Mimi name is rapidly spreading and since 2007 she has produced bags for the Tate and is now stocked in Anthropologie and Toast. This is a far cry from when I first found her, still relatively unknown on the Brick Lane backstreets. You had to ring a buzzer just to enter the shop!

(Medium Musette in black, Mimi Berry, £185)

My favourite then and now is the medium Musette. Quality italian leather combined with excellent brass fittings make for an expensive-looking bag which certainly competes with the big name brands such as Ally Capellino. I think they’re probably nicer anyway!

(Classic large Bond in red, Mimi Berry, £80)

I also love this Bond wallet in red. It looks like something Mulberry would produce (but at the fraction of the cost!) and doubles up nicely as a clutch. Stylish and multi-functional – what more could you want? If you like what you see, get yourself down to Mimi to check out the diverse women’s (and mens) options. You will never be hankering for good quality leather again!

Visit the Mimi Shop at Unit 1, 7 Winkley Street, London, E2 6PY

Our secret Kate

Kate – a name now synonymous with elegance and great taste thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge, but did you know there’s another stylish Kate out there? Going by the name of Kate Kanzier, she is a designer producing excellent shoes and bags at highly affordable prices, but it’s all a bit of a secret unless of course you work near Leather Lane where her one-and-only shop resides.

Producing cutting-edge leather bags and shoes since 2001, my current favourite is the Duena which is a fantastic lower-budget alternative to the colour-block totes which designers from DVF to Anya Hindmarch have produced this season. I think this bag is chic and perfect for every day and available in 6 different colours, you’re bound to find your perfect match. Just chuck everything in and go!

(Duena Tote, Kate Kanzier, £65)

Kate Kanzier also stocks a wide range of brogues, ballerinas, heels, wedges and boots. 90% are leather, but even the faux-leather are very well done so worth the spend. Check out the vintage-style courts and tassel slippers, they are divine. For Spring, I am considering investing in these powder blue suede brogues. (Elvis would be proud!) With vibrant pink laces and a chunky heel, these will be ideal with my rolled-up skinny jeans or with ankle socks and a flippy skirt. Ahh…come on sun, I need an excuse to wear these!!!!

(Betana blue suede brogues, Kate Kanzier, £55)