Style | Need To Now

An exclusive display of precious bags

A smart young designer shows off his jewel-like bags at Harrods

An exclusive display of precious bags

November 19 2011
Avril Groom

At only 24, Singapore-born, London-based Ethan Koh has already joined the ranks of the top suppliers of very precious bags. The fourth generation of a Chinese family who started their crocodile skin business in the early 1900s, he has crocodile bags in his blood and last year he started designing and making his own bespoke Ethan K range (also including python and ostrich) while still a student at the London College of Fashion. Now he has come to the attention of buyers for Harrods’ über-luxe Egyptian Room, where a selection of his evening bags lands on November 23 to join the great names of the exotic skins world such as Nancy Gonzalez and Zagliani.

There are just four evening styles from his new Wildlife Odyssey collection, but with 22 different combinations of colour, finish and clasp – all exclusive to the store – and no more than about 100 bags in total, they are almost as rare as the jewellery they resemble. All in the best Nile crocodile (superior to the more commonly found alligator), they are butter-soft and extremely tactile with their elegant, rounded-corner shapes, either as a small, classic, hard-case box bag or a longer, east-west design. But the crowning glories – literally – are the clasps: beautifully cast metal versions, plated in yellow or rose gold or ruthenium-darkened palladium, of some of Koh’s favourite animals from his childhood – frog, hedgehog and snake, all with semiprecious stone eyes. The third model, the Pearl, has a spherical clasp glinting with coloured stones.

The colours are jewel-like, too – from soft pink or blue matte to the rich, shiny deep blues, greens, reds or purples that the best crocodile takes from dye. The semiprecious eyes are toned to match both skin and metal. As a classic alternative, there is simple black, but that comes with bright red topaz eyes. With prices starting at £1,790, these are pieces to cherish.