Bear necessities: get them before they become endangered


When is a clutch bag not a clutch bag?

When it's a wearable work of art. No it's not the worst cracker joke, but the latest "It bag" – the fruit of a collaboration between contemporary artist Rob Pruitt and Jimmy Choo.

Made in a limited edition of 14, each of Pruitt's devil and angel minaudières (a hybrid between an evening bag and an ornament) is hand-embellished with 11,000 crystals. With a price tag of £9,500 this isn't a bag for dancing around at the Christmas party.

Fans of Pruitt's pop art-influenced body of work, which also includes a silvered monument to Andy Warhol in New York, will know that the panda is a recurring motif: "It's a symbol that reminds us both to tread lightly and to appreciate the adorable," says the artist. "They represent the harmony of yin and yang." As these kitsch centrepieces indicate, Pruitt's is not a discreet collection: neon colours, zebra prints, pom-poms and candy sprinkles all decorate one or another of Jimmy Choo's signature shape shoes and clutch bags.

Ornamental and outlandishly expensive handbags are nothing new, of course, with the minaudière first appearing in the 1930s, credited to Charles Arpels of jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels. More recent proponents include Olympia le Tan, whose literature-inspired bags regularly appear in the clutches of celebrities, and Charlotte Olympia.

Alber Elbaz accessorised his spring/summer collection for Lanvin with minaudières modelled on the perfume bottle of the house's Arpege fragrance, first created in 1927. While Valentino creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli (who cut their teeth in the accessories arm of the label) created crystal embellished moulded butterflies. Get ready to pack light.