Donald Baechler Enters Artist Handbag Fray

In 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.