Stored and Adored

Dedicated to Designer and Pre-Loved Bags

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Isabel Canovas: Shop Vintage Designer

stored and adored designer bag blog: vintage red leather bag with metal embellishments

Isabel Canovas is a name that you might not have heard before, but if you’re a fashion enthusiast then you should stop and take note.

Throughout her career, Canovas worked for some of the top fashion houses, specialising in the design of luxury accessories. She began at Hermes, before later moving on to Louis Vuitton, and then finally joining Christian Dior where she worked as head designer for nearly ten years. Aged 37, Canovas left Dior to start her own business with her husband, and together they opened the first Isabel Canovas boutique in Paris, on Avenue Montaigne.

storedandadored designer bag blog: vintage suede bucket bag with laser cut leather

The Paris store showcased Canovas’ bold and artistic accessories, all of which were priced at the higher end of the luxury market – rivaling even Hérmes’ prices. However, this didn’t seem to put anyone off her brand, and Isabel Canovas’ designs not only sold well but they also began being featured in top fashion magazines. If this wasn’t enough proof of the brand’s success, in 1985 a new Isabel Canovas boutique was opened in New York, soon followed in 1988 by another in Madrid. Canovas’ creations were now available across two continents, and still proving popular with the ultra-rich. The brand then burnt brightly before their stores were eventually closed down in 1992.

I think for anyone with conservative fashion tastes – or those looking for value-for-money based on a ‘cost per wear’ breakdown – Isabel Canovas’ designs, and prices, won’t necessarily make sense. Although it is possible to find more moderate designs within her archive (the bag in the photo below, for example), the truly special pieces do tend to fall towards the wackier end of the fashion spectrum. However, don’t let this put you off, even New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art own something by Isabel Canovas shoes – and they opted for a pair of shoes that look like peeled bananas.stored and adored designer bag blog
I personally only have experience handling Isabel Canovas’ handbags, so I can’t comment on her jewellery or shoes, and I find her bags incredibly appealing for two main reasons. Firstly, both the design and production quality of her pieces are astounding; the shapes, materials and all of the finishing touches are incredibly luxurious. When you pick up one of her bags, it’s immediately apparent that what you’re holding is something special; they’re wonderfully made with beautiful, and often unique, finishing touches. This leads me onto the second reason why I like them so much, I just don’t think that anyone could fake Canovas’ designs. The fashion world is rife with copy-cats – and to some extent this is a good thing, as I think that it helps push forward fashion design to great new heights – but Canovas’ creations are often so weird and wonderful that you just couldn’t recreate them at budget prices.

storedandadored designer bag blog: statement bag with metal embellishments

In 2016, Zara released a red faux-leather bag covered in metallic bee embellishment. Coincidentally, I happen to own an Isabel Canovas bag with a similar shape and colour, which features similar metallic embellishments. Zara is well known for creating imitations of designer pieces, and although I’m not certain that they were copying Canovas the similarities between these two bags are undeniable. However, although these bags share similar qualities they are actually nothing alike. There is no weight to the Zara bag, the embellishments feel cheap and, although the design is fun, the artistry of Canovas’ embellishments is lost entirely. One is very clearly a mass produced item, and the other is something that has been painstakingly pieced together. If there was ever a bag worth Canovas’ prices, then surely it would be something like this one; unique, beautifully constructed, full of personality and an instant conversation starter.

Stored and Adored buy and sell Isabel Canovas’ vintage designer handbags, and the three bags featured in this blog post are all available to purchase from our online shop


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