June 02 2011
My husband doesn’t do “man bags”. Until, that is, I bought him his first Bill Amberg: brown leather, worn over the shoulder, large (and strong enough) to carry his laptop. He doesn’t do “man jewellery” either – until, that is, he saw the crocodile cuffs on Loyaban Lemarti, a Samburu warrior married to the Kenya-based fashion designer Anna Trzebinski. She has a successful atelier in Nairobi (open Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm), and her bags and jewellery are also sold at private sales in London, New York and Miami, with upcoming July sales in Aspen and the Hamptons (only a lucky few receive an invite to one of her famously fun trunk shows, attended by the likes of Uma Thurman).
But the croc cuffs – some larger than others, from an inch to four inches wide ($150-$575) – are of Lemarti’s styling. The skin is not the soft belly of the crocodile familiar in most luxury leather goods, but the horny back skin that’s less commonly seen (aside, that is, from the odd 1940s vintage handbag you might pick up at a flea market in New York). From farmed animals in South Africa, the skins are tanned a dark brown, some close to black, and are fastened with tough silver catches.
On Lemarti, they look their best with one on each wrist, snugly fitted. But then he can get away with the overkill, for most of the time he pairs the cuffs with traditional Samburu jewellery of a far more colourful kind. On my husband, however, one cuff is enough. Besides, they aren’t cheap, with the widest ones, which are the most desirable, costing $575.
Which is nothing, of course, on the bag I want: the $5,000 suede-fringe “hobo” bag with antique silver. The entire strap is croc, and it’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.