Donald Baechler Enters Artist Handbag Fray

index of happiness.jpgIn the beginning, there was Louis Vuitton and Takashi Murakami. And the luxury goods industry saw that it was good. Since then, the limited-edition artist “collaboration” handbags have been coming fast and furious: Kiki Smith whipped up a whimsical tote for Coach, Richard Phillips pitched in on some Jimmy Choo clutches, and Tracey Emin put a folksy spin on Longchamp bags. The latest artist to get in on the craze is Donald Baechler, who has collaborated with Samsonite-owned Lambertson Truex on the “Index of Happiness Bag” (pictured above), yours for $1,000 and with 15% of the purchase price to benefit the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The suede tote is in the boxy “caboose” style, a Lambertson Truex signature that we can’t help but associate (lovingly) with Will & Grace‘s Karen Walker, an early fan. Both sides of the bag feature a print based on an original Baechler mixed-media canvas, but the effect is ruined by loony details like mismatched plaid-printed leather handle anchors and a leather luggage tag (embossed with the Baechler trademark figure, but still). A leather patch stitched inside is numbered (1 through 200) and signed by Baechler, while the lining is screen-printed with images of a Baechler sculpture. For those with simpler handbag needs and less spending money, Lambertson Truex offers another limited-edition bag to benefit the Whitney: a leather-trimmed canvas tote called the “Gertrude” (pictured above, at left), named for Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, sells for $120.