The mood of the season is pared down and polished, and handbags, in general, are following suit. Luxury is still key, although the devil is in the detail over and above all-singing, all-dancing hardware.
At Dolce & Gabbana, for example, signature appliquéd lace and crocheted rosebuds transform the otherwise straightforward doctor bag into an object of desire. At Prada it's the retro-print bowling bag that has captured the most attention. The marvellous Mrs P has reinvented the Formica-table designs that thrilled in the Nineties (the Nineties, incidentally, are very now) to suitably strange and lovely effect, in quintessentially sludgy colours and on nylon. But of course!
Those in search of a more strictly utilitarian purchase should take a look at both Chloé and Proenza Schouler's bag collections. Chloé has turned to the colour of the moment – that's camel if you hadn't already heard – in the form of laid-back leather drawstring shoulder bags and compact totes with a subtle nod towards the Seventies. Proenza Schouler's slouchy leather satchels, in muted colours and with dark, metal fastenings, are the understated alternative to the "It" bag of yesteryear. Of course, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. Enter Donatella Versace, who has produced ladylike tote and shoulder bags, but with a difference. Reminiscent of sweet wrappers – the most high-octane sweet wrappers ever – reflective leather in vivid hues is perfect for those not ready to embrace the sombre side of fashion.
All hail comfortable footwear! While we're not in the throes of anything quite so relaxed as a cosy-slipper moment, the mid and kitten heel are enjoying their time in the sun. For both his own label and for Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs has opted for a small heel. The new LV shoe boasts a small, square design scattered with tiny crystals and its pointy toe is decorated with an oversized bow. Stella McCartney also went for a slightly lower heel on the catwalk – her glossy slingbacks owe more than a little to Helmut Lang and caused quite a stir. Renowned for its mouth-watering footwear (the Tribute and Muse sandals have near unbeatable status), Yves Saint Laurent has come up with these classic court shoes, their pristine surface only interrupted by a line of horse hair running down a chunky heel. More eccentric still is a similar version with a tuft at the toe. Finally, over at Alexander McQueen the ankle boot (still reigning over fashion like a colossus, and for good reason) takes as its inspiration the phenomenally fashionable aviator jacket. Not quite a cosy slipper, but with at least a nod to warmth and very sexy, too.
An over-the-knee faux-fur yeti boot with a mid-height transparent plastic heel is not every woman's idea of elegance, but anyone wearing one is destined to stop the traffic nonetheless. Chanel's faux-fur yeti boots deserve the first mention in this section. Any full-on fashion statement hunter out there will be queuing up to buy them the moment they hit the stores. On the more sensible side (well, sensible for fashion, at least) are Céline's polished leather boots, which cling to the calf, stop just below the knee and are finished with a small square heel covered in gold. Join the waiting list now.
Don't even think about buckling up with a chunky belt for the next six months: skinny leather is the way forward. At Prada, chunky, Aran-knit cardigans are designed to be tied at the waist with a jewel-coloured patent belt as thin as a ribbon and, like a ribbon, tied in a neat bow. Chloé made sure its new, wide- legged trousers were secured by a fine toffee-coloured belt. Gucci, meanwhile, drove the message home with a slick collection of low-rise and supremely flattering trousers worn with skinny belts in matching hues.
Gloves made a special appearance in the autumn collections: a whole host of designers chose to style their clothes with them. Generally, leather is the preferred material and a longer length is favoured, either pulled up to the elbow or pushed down around the wrist in more laissez-faire fashion. Yves Saint Laurent's black suede gloves trimmed with a petal-like frill create a lovely line. Elber Albaz's designs for Lanvin – all ruched and shiny – are the sexiest gloves imaginable.
Marni has long been loved for its chunky costume jewellery, and this season's offering is equally desirable. Still boasting the label's signature touch of whimsy, these oversized bobble-bead necklaces are perhaps a little less fussy than previous designs, and are all the more modish for that.