For Helen Barr, handbags are as much about the women who carry them as they are about the design, the materials and the embellishments.  At a showing in her beautiful Upper East Side showroom, she places one of her bags on the shoulder of a randomly chosen member of the press.  “Look at that,” she says.  “The draping of the bag makes her look taller and leaner.  That’s what you want in a bag.”

Her Fall Collection is full of must-have carry-alls, from small satchels to large hobos.  Even the biggest bags are light as a feather, made from the finest Italian leather, classic hardware and incomparable workmanship.  I ask her if we’ve seen the end of the “it” bag, and she answers emphatically.  “No. Women don’t have time to change bags every day anymore.  What they need is one bag they can use with every outfit, every pair of shoes.  So we create classic bags that go with just about everything.”

Helen began selling a line of luxury designer bags back in 2000.  They’ve been seen on the arms of stars of trendy TV shows like “Will & Grace”, “Sex and the City” and “Covert Affairs”.  Her customers keep coming back, season after season, for bags that will last a lifetime.  In 2004, she received Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award.  Now, she’s working on a line of shoes, following her same ethos, create a well-made, well-designed product and it’s destined to become a favorite in any woman’s collection.

But here’s the best news:  if her high-end line is a little too pricey, you can find a special Barr & Barr line on HSN, where Helen’s become a familiar face and her bags, made with the same fine craftsmanship and attention to detail as her department store line, sell out with almost every appearance.  “I love going on HSN,” she says, “talking directly to the consumers and hearing from them how much they love their bags, there’s nothing like it.”

Photography: Anton Brookes

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