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As we Tweeted to much controversy Wednesday night, "Backpacks are the new It Bags," or so Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's sage stylist, Danielle Nachmani told us at the twins' party to launch The Row's new collection of handbags at Barneys. And man, do we want to go back to grade school with those sleek-chic rucksacks—mom and dad, we'll take the $39,000 crocodile one. Kidding aside (or are we?), we couldn't help but be impressed by the nine offerings, from an small, square ostrich cross-body to a sandy day-bag, they all have the look of insta-classics: minimal hardware, discreet logos, and luxe materials mine Victoria Beckham and Valextra with a youthful sensibility that's all their own. And, in our humble opinion, the Olsens themselves, who brought along younger sister Lizzie, have never looked better, sporting clean makeup, cleaner hair, beautifully fitted ensembles (both wore The Row), and, yes, tans! Because we can't get enough of her, we caught up with Barneys Fashion Director, the eternally glam Amanda Brooks, for a Q&A on the former TV stars evolving fashion empire. And no, we didn't ask her for an employee discount on that backpack.
How are you feeling about the bags? You guys have dedicated a lot of Olsen-square-footage!
"I think I'm incredibly excited. Bags are incredibly hard to get right (of course, I'm not surprised that they got it right!) but they got it so right, they're so classic, they're so chic, you know it's definitely not the kind of bag you buy for one season. They're beautiful, classic, timeless bags, but they also make you drool, make you swoon. It's very hard to do something classic that makes you swoon."
Totally swoon-worthy. But, do you think that there are so many "It" bags out there that the market may be saturated?
"I think these bags will really stand out. To launch any bag line is high-pressure and very competitive, so yeah, it's not often [at Barneys] that we're like 'okay'."
So, did you embrace the collection right away?
Yes, the minute we got to the showroom—they're just so beautiful and chic. I think there's so many bags that have so many doodads on them and those are beautiful and they sell but I think, like their clothing, there's a huge range of age and customers for the bag—bohemian, for the more classic girl, I mean there's just so many different ways to wear them."
The Row's ready-to-wear has blown up. Do you think it will happen all over with the bag collection?
"I think the bags are the same thing. Yes, they have a fantastic foundation, but they stand on their own as well. That classic, minimalist person can wear The Row head-to-toe but if you also want to buy the tote bag to wear with more ornate things, it works either way. Understated, elegant and beautifully designed—it doesn't surprise me at all that the bags look like they do."
Do you think the price-point is scary?
"I think the price-point is scary if you think about the bags that everybody is going to buy for the season...a trendy bag. But, if you're like I am, when I buy a bag I'm thinking about a three year investment, I'm not thinking about a three month investment."
From a professional standpoint, how are the Olsens to work with?
"They are so impressive, I can't tell you, the first time I went to the showroom, Ashley was there, then Mary Kate came, and they are so conversant in the technical aspects of designing clothing and selling their business. They are incredible."
Click through to see snaps from the collection launch party!
All photos via Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com