It’s all over the internet – Fall 2012 is the season of oxblood. It’s kind of a moody alternative to burgundy or maroon, deep red with a touch of something else. Or maybe it is a chestnut brown with a touch of red. Either way, it is the color buzzword of the season.
I try not to think too much about high school, but sometimes I come across something that just takes me back to the early 1970s. Oxblood leather, or more precisely, Etienne Aigner handbags, would be one of those things. Sometime in the late 1960s or early 70s Aigner bags overtook John Romain as the must-have accessory at my high school. Logo mania was years in the future, but the little stylized A that marked a handbag as being Aigner was all that was necessary to prove to one’s peers that you were “with it.”
Etienne Aigner began making belts and handbags for the Paris couture after World War II. In 1950 he went to New York, and for a time designed handbags for an American manufacturer. After losing his job he began making belts in his apartment. Because his finances were in such a bad state, he could afford only one color of dye, which he called Antic Red. He was able to get several high-end department stores to carry his finely crafted belts, and soon he was also making handbags in his signature Antic Red. By 1959 he was so successful that he was able to open a showroom in New York City.
I didn’t have an Aigner handbag in high school, and I don’t recall wanting one. They were quite expensive – way beyond what I could afford – and by that time I was making my own bags in art class. So when I found this one several weeks ago, it was the style that sold me on the bag, not the name. But I’m really impressed with the quality, so I can say that at least the daddys of those girls who had Aigner handbags were getting their money’s worth.