Henri Bendel, besides selling thousands of other brands (including Tom Binns jewelry, MAC cosmetics, and a truly staggering array of scarves), also turns out its own line of accessories every season. For summertime, Henri Bendel’s handbags and jewelry are naturally bright and poppy – scarves the color of sherbet, jewelry featuring beads of magenta, turquoise and cerulean blue – and are accompanied some of the time by the classic Bendel brown and white stripe. This reporter attended the press preview for Henri Bendel’s upcoming line of Summer 2012 accessories on a day when it was grey and drizzly in the way it tends to be in mid-winter. There are 126 days left until June 1.
This reporter was welcomed with a bottle of water and a chocolate-dipped Oreo. (Yes, please.) The first bauble to catch her eye was a satin-and-nylon blend tote bag (officially termed the Big City Girl Shopper), splotched with illustrations of glamour girls shopping at Bendel’s with their dogs, as rendered by Izak ($298). So many of Bendel’s handbags have showcased Izak’s illustrations that they’ve become something of a collector’s item among frequent shoppers. There was also a Gossamer Tote made of lace encased in PVC – a quaint ladylike notion made waterproof by modern-day plastic ($198).
On another table were a series of black satin pouches, meant to store makeup or what-have-you on a long voyage or in your day-to-day life ($78, $88, $98). One of this reporter’s personal favorites was a leather bag with snakeskin accents, which was entitled “Turn Me On” ($398). Sturdy but not fuddy-duddy, it had classic lines and structure, with handles that fit as well over the shoulder as they did in the crook of the arm. A bright green snakeskin flap, however, kept it punk-rock and youthful. Another favorite was a simple suede envelope clutch – which will come in pink and blue ($198). Tucked under one arm with a strapless LBD and pair of silver sandals, this would be the perfect addition for a summer night out.
A nautical-looking collection of bags featured white canvas, navy trim, and silver buckles (bucket tote $328, clutch $198, mini $178). Any of the three – combined with a white T-shirt, white jeans, and Jack Rogers sandals – would be fine for picking up gazpacho at Dean & Deluca, or for looking at yachts on the North Fork.
A statement necklace (the Mykonos) on another table was made of turquoise, deep blue, and gold bugle beads; and showcased a cinch closure ($298). The closure was as beautiful as the front, so that this necklace would be a great thing to wear with a low-back dress. This reporter could also see it with a black string bikini and a floppy straw hat. Why not?
And, as the consummate hostess gift, Henri Bendel also offers its own line of scented candles – for Summer 2012, they come in Mint Julep, Blue Iris, and Coconut Flower – the last of which reminds this reporter of the beach ($30 each).
The great thing about this preview is it’s an example of what’s Henri Bendel is like all the time – a sparkly candyland of accessories; things that aren’t necessarily essential to the wardrobe but help to draw out the wearer, and punch up a black suit or a pair of jeans. (And the brilliant thing about not selling sportswear is that Bendel’s has thus become a paradise for women who hate to try things on.) The danger of it all is that Bendel’s becomes an illicit playground of instant gratification. What’s a $350 necklace after a day spent staring at Excel?
All aforementioned products will be available by May 2012.