"It" handbags swing in and out of style as fast as you can get them in your hands, and fashion followers have seen the trends oscillate from extra-large carryalls to micro-purses, from graffiti printed to covered in fur. The latest trend tickling the fancy of fashionistas everywhere? The Wayuu Mochila Bag. And it's no wonder, as each bag is 100 percent unique and a product of Latin American artistry.
Each one-of-a-kind pack, called a Susu, is handwoven in about 20 days by women of the indigenous tribe and largest Colombia- and Venezuela-based ethnic group, the Wayuu. The bags are created at the Shukumajaya, the Wayuu Taya foundation's women center that helps educate women on parenting, nutrition, family planning and hygiene. Designers in the US—including J. Crew, who placed the Mochila bag in their June catalogue, and Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta—have all put their own spin on the trend. But Colombia-born designer Silvia Tcherassi grabbed our attention when she added an elegant bit of bling, infusing her version of the bags (pictured above) with Swarovski crystals in her fall 2010 collection. Tcherassi's bags come in fully-crystallized and semi-crystallized versions of large and small sizes.
As with all hot fashion items, part of the appeal of the Wayuu Mochila bags are that once they're gone, they're gone, and because each is handcrafted they're in limited supply. So keep your eye out for upcoming versions from Proenza Schouler ($1,100-$2,250 at Barneys New York) and a new supply at J. Crew ($175 at the shop's Madison Avenue location) this fall. You can also visit silviatcherassi.com for a list of stores that sell Tcherassi's bags.