Hemingway's daughter has been test-driving a mini-black Fiamma, which she said is perfect for her lifestyle.
"I am not the girl with the briefcase. I am the girl who takes ChapStick, a wallet and my phone," Langley Hemingway Fox said by phone from New York.
It's no surprise that brands are honing their handbag focus. Accessories have proven themselves recession-resistant, and the economic traction they give fashion houses is making it more critical for brands to develop an iconic bag, one that "can stand as a brand's flagship item," said Ginger Reeder of Neiman Marcus.
With sales of leather goods the fastest-growing segment in the luxury sector, there is enough room for every house to have an iconic bag, "and most do," Reeder said. Global sales of leather goods, excluding footwear, reached 36 billion euros ($50 billion) last year, nearly one-third of all luxury sales, according to a study by Bain & Co.
Ultimately, the customer will decide which bag becomes iconic.
"I think people want something that endures," said Alison Minton, a fashion blogger and handbag enthusiast who chronicles her passion for accessories on her blog accessorygeneration.com. "I think people don't want to buy a new bag every season, but want a bag that is stylish and well-made and is going to last."
Minton herself has faced the "It" bag temptation. She resisted a friend's offer to pick up the Louis Vuitton Speedy Graffiti bag in Paris back in its heyday — and suffered a pang of regret when she saw the prices that the bag was later fetching on e-Bay.
Her collection now includes both icons and personal treasures, including a Birkin bag, a Gucci bag that her mother bought her in Italy a decade ago and a Goyard tote bag, which she said would now be out of her price range. "Luckily for me, when I bought my iconic bags, things were not as crazy as they are now."