Are you a handbag person? If so, this one’s for you, because we’ve just discovered handbag heaven. Saks Fifth Avenue in New York has just unveiled its new handbag department, and its pretty remarkable. We just paid a visit to the new handbag department and we can report that you’ll find a glorious rainbow of designer handbags at the new Saks Main Floor. Have a look!
the new handbag department at saks
When a grand dame gets a makeover, it’s always a risky business. Sometimes the urgency to be newly relevant results in the loss of what was special in the first place.
The flagship Saks Fifth Avenue in New York has been undergoing a multi-year makeover in a quest to compete more effectively with online shopping, a plethora of new boutiques in the city – and the pending arrivals of Nordstrom’s and Neiman Marcus in Manhattan.
We admit, we were skeptical that a renovation would actually result in something compelling and truly new. But happily, the new Beauty floor at Saks achieved exactly what one might hope: it’s what the beauty department used to be – only much, much better.
Next up? This week, Saks debuted its new handbag department on the main floor. It replaces what was once the beauty department, and it’s meant to be as dazzling a display as its 1-800-SHOE floor, which is the size of a city block squared – so large that it has its own zip code.
Because we’re among those who truly love bags, new things and retail stores, we couldn’t wait to see what this new world of designer handbags would look like. We visited during the first week that the new handbag department opened, on a weekday afternoon, to see whether the reality would live up to the hype.
Here’s what we found.
a visit to the new handbag department at saks
Walking into the new Main Floor at Saks is like walking into a dreamland. Cheerful, happy colors abound, and like a candy store, there are delightful bright objects everywhere you look that beckon you to come closer.
a rainbow escalator
The show-stopping change that any longtime habitué of Saks will notice is that there is now a rainbow-hued escalator connecting the Main Floor – where the new handbag department has been installed – and the new Beauty Floor one flight up.
This prominent new addition re-orients the entire floor and washes the space in vibrant colors. Most of the new surfaces are either transparent, reflective or iridescent.
Take the escalator up, and waves of color and mirrored reflections wash over you. There’s a “skylight” that we assume will change colors throughout the day.
It’s definitely not your grandmother’s department store any more. Suddenly, you can image people taking Instagram photos at Saks Fifth Avenue! We assume that was part of the point of the renovation. If so, mission accomplished.
Up on the second floor, where the beauty department now lives, the new color palette lights up the space in a completely different way than what we saw just a few months ago.
It’s sort of cool to ride the escalator up and down a couple of times. If you love color (and we do) it will definitely lift your mood.
It’s nearly impossible to be grumpy in a space like this.
Rainbow-bright bags predominate
The shiny new elevator dominates the handbag space and sets the tone, and many of the designer brands have followed suit with rainbow-bright bags that reflect the vibrant hues.
We’ve shared an overview of the spring-summer 2019 handbag trends – you’ll find all them here, in most cases in the brightest possible colors.
At Balenciaga, for example, there’s a wide variety of neon-colored handbags and totes.
Off-White by Virgil Abloh continues the theme.
Chanel has it’s own shop on the main floor, in which the brand is currently sporting Candy-Crush pink bags and accessories.
Louboutin features both color and shine.
Front and center at Prada, there are jelly-bean colored bags in red, pink, yellow, blue and green.
Prada’s little sister Mui Mui has Valentine’s Day pink and red accessories, as well as a gorgeous forest green bag on offer.
Lots of brands new to saks keep the rainbow theme going
Moynat has prominent new real estate, and it’s bags are eye-popping.
Nancy Gonzales has an expanded space, and plays the color game in lots of interesting ways.
Loewe takes the prize
Despite all of these valiant efforts, without question Loewe takes the crown at this debut, with an irresistible array of gorgeous bags in every color of the rainbow.
There are adorable Loewe bunny purses.
Of course there are Loewe puzzle bags.
Plus a pair of fringed rainbow Loewe puzzle bags that are exclusive to Saks.
Pastels are still allowed to play
Should you decide to opt for something a bit quieter and more austere, fear not. At Dior, pastels ruled.
There are plenty of softer options at Chanel, too.
Bottega Veneta provides an oasis of calm for those so inclined.
We expect that as the seasons change, so will the color palette. And at some point, the New Yorkers will demand more options in their favorite color: black.
For now, though, it’s a party to celebrate a rebirth, and we think the candy-colored, Skittles, jelly-bean palette feels totally right.
We’d strongly advise that you don’t visit this little slice of handbag heaven unless you’re prepared to go home with a new bag. It’s going to be extremely difficult to prowl around this space without finding something to love.
You’ve been warned. Nice job, Saks!
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