When you carry a Mark Cross handbag, you might feel like you're enjoying a Midnight in Paris experience — after all, alongside his wife Sara, Gerald Murphy, president of the company from 1934 to 1964, hobnobbed with The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald, poet Dorothy Parker, and Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway. F. Scott Fitzgerald even dedicated his novel Tender Is the Night to Gerald and Sara Murphy. Though the Mark Cross Company was founded in 1845 and its origins had distinctly equestrian overtones, it wasn't until the mid to late 1930s that the brand's fine, sophisticated, carefully crafted handbags were embraced by Hollywood's elite, the literary and musical masterminds of the era, and the fashion zealots influenced by Parisian designers' sensibilities. At its height, Mark Cross enjoyed exposure on the silver screen, with its luggage prominently featured in Alfred Hichcock's 1954 thriller Rear Window.
Though Mark Cross closed in 1997, following the deaths of both Gerald and Sara Murphy, the company was resurrected in 2010 and is now readying its reintroduction, debuting exclusively at Barney's as of January 30th.
Rather than deviate from the company's storied heritage, the Mark Cross Collection I features pieces inspired by its vintage archives, modified ever so slightly so as to not appear dated or costume-like — all produced in the very same factories as the original designs. Made of Italian leather, these classic handbags come in neutral shades like taupe, honey, cuoio, and nude, as well as a dusty pavone blue, a timeless black, and a classic red, their price tags ranging from $1495 to $2350.
Standouts include the Grace Small Box Trunk and Grace Large Box Trunk, priced at $1695 and $1995 respectively, both inspired by the overnight case famously Grace Kelly carried in Rear Window. Made of Italian calf leather, the box-shaped handbag looks as if it features a removable top lid but in fact, it's meant to be carried on the side, with the brass lock closure facing upward. Once the lock is unclasped, the bag opens sideways, facilitated by its hinged frame, which fans open like an accordion. The bag's interior is lined with red lambskin and features a roomy zippered pocket. A sturdy top handle and detachable shoulder strap complete the effect. Available in either beige or black, the Grace Large Box Trunk measures 8.5" in length, 6.5" in width, and 4.5" in height, while the Grace Small Box Trunk measures 7.5" in length, 5.5" in width, and 3.5" in height.
You can practically picture Gossip Girl character Blair Waldorf traipsing through Paris in a beret, wearing a chic sundress while carrying a Grace Small Box Trunk — after all, she's been aspiring to be the next Grace Kelly since the age of 18.
The Scottie handbag (pictured above, third and fourth from top) and the Marina clutch (pictured last above) were also modeled after vintage designs.
Made of Italian vegetable tanned leather, the Mark Cross Scottie Small Flap Satchel ($1950 at MarkCross1845.com) measures 11.5" in length, 3.5" in width, and 8" in height, and features a retro top handle, a trapezoid-shaped top flap with tonal stitching, a brass lock closure, and a detachable shoulder strap.
Art Deco sensibilities inform the design of the Marina Evening Clutch ($1495 at MarkCross1845.com), an envelope-shaped bag with rounded sides crafted out of supple black Italian calf leather. Measuring 11" in length, 1.5" in width, and 6" in height, the clutch features a rectangular top flap adorned with a slim rectangular, golden brass bar trim at its edge. This golden bar is then filled with black enamel for a touch of red carpet-worthy glamour.