Antic Red, or Oxblood by Any Other Name

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.


Filed under Collecting, Designers, Made in the USA

5 responses to “Antic Red, or Oxblood by Any Other Name

  1. YEAH…considering I have about 15 oxblood purses (various styles and sizes of course), this makes me very happy! I can use a different bag everyday.


  2. I would have been sold on the shape of this purse, too. I recall my mother having a barrel-shaped wicker purse with oxblood details. I doubt it was Aigner as she wouldn’t have been able to afford that. But I always love your historical tidbits.


  3. love your bag, Lizzie, and love your blog even more! xoxoxoxo


  4. I love oxblood, and would like to have much more of it in my wardrobe! My first association with the color is my punk rock 1980s years, when it was a popular color for Doc Marten shoes and boots (I always ended up with black, though).

    Love the Aigner bag, Lizzie. Such a great shape, and I love the wicker/leather combination.


  5. I would love to carry that bag in the summer time. What a great find! And yes, oxblood is on trend for now but the richness of that color is too classic to ever really go out of style.


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