Is it worth it? Itsy bitsy, very pricey

Need a stylish evening bag for those special occasions? Then look no further. This little number by Judith Leiber could be yours for a trifling pounds 1,215

WHEN YOU consider that the lovely Emma Noble popped up in (or is that out of?) a pounds 2,500 Julien MacDonald dress last week, and that Liz Hurley forked out a similar sum the week before in a knicker-bearing Donatella frock, a pricetag of pounds 1,215 for a bag to keep your hankies in suddenly doesn't sound so outrageous. This antique ribbon evening bag from self- proclaimed "status bag lady" (ho ho) Judith Leiber is a typical example of Leiber's talents, which have found favour with the likes of Liz Hurley, Cindy Crawford and, erm, Joan Collins, who apparently owns over fifty of the blighters.

Made in New York and sold in the UK through Asprey and The Room of Luxury at Harrods, this evening bag is, admittedly, exquisitely designed. In fact, it's so beautiful and fragile-looking that the overwhelming urge is to stick it in a glass case just to protect it from the world's grubby hands. Which makes sense really, since Ms Leiber's bags happen to be on permanent collections in both the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the V&A in London.

Pushing aside the question of just how many of us actually bother buying evening bags these days (c'mon, they're not even big enough to dance around), this little gem isn't going to make any friends in the Stella McCartney camp, with its ample use of the exotic-sounding South East Asian snake skin (known as karung) and calf-leather in misty blue. However, its delicate embroidery and jewels will be more popular; it's adorned with Italian crystal rhinestones in fuschia, pale pink, lilac, blue and gold, all of which are individually applied both to the antique ribbon and the clasp. Apparently, it takes up to five days for a single person to lovingly produce one of these gems (the bag, not the rhinestone), which perhaps goes some way to explain why it costs so damn much.

Physical perfection aside, it's time to accost the clip. No easy task I'm afraid. I stalked it nervously for several minutes, before blind-guessing and praying it wouldn't break off in my hand. But once inside - joy of joy! - it's every little girl's dream. I bet Barbie has a bag just like this. There's a little money purse, in mint green vinyl, with a miniature round mirror (you can only see one eye at a time) and a tiny tassled comb, made of gold plated brass. It's all terribly pretty but, I fear, completely useless. Alas, unless you are a Ms Campbell or a Ms Moss, whose make-up, I dare say, never smudges or needs reapplication, any attempt to touch- up using this mirror will end in tears. Likewise, the comb might work on the ultrathin tresses of Baby Spice. Otherwise, forget it.

Still, these items aren't supposed to be taken seriously. They're little 'extras' to justify the price tag. And if you've got the cash to burn, great. But for those of us in the real world, a thousand quid bag is all well and good, until you realise that you won't be able to afford anything else to go with it for the next year. And let's be honest, not even a Judith Leiber bag is worth the trauma of an empty wardrobe.

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