HIT­TING THE MARK

The National - News - Luxury - - THE STYLE LIST - www.markcross.com

There are many who have never even heard of Mark Cross. And yet, on­line stock­ists of the “lux­ury brand that fash­ion for­got” re­port that its dis­tinc­tive hand­bags rou­tinely sell out, sea­son a er sea­son.

The 172-year-old com­pany has all the trap­pings of a riches-to-rags-to-res­ur­rec­tion saga worth root­ing for: a check­ered his­tory, links with the crème de la crème of the lit­er­ary world, celebrity clients rang­ing from princesses to pop stars, coups, clo­sures and come­backs. The com­pany was born in Bos­ton in 1845 when Ir­ish im­mi­grant Henry Cross started a sad­dlery cen­tre named a er his son, Mark. Lit­tle did he know that the brand would change hands and stance so dra­mat­i­cally, go­ing from mak­ing sad­dles to ci­gar cases, and har­nesses to hand­bags.

Ac­quired by busi­ness­man Pa­trick Mur­phy in the early 1880s, Mark Cross has Mur­phy’s son, Ger­ald, and heiress daugh­ter-in-law, Sara Sher­man Wi­borg, to credit for its 1950s hey­day and cur­rent avatar. The Mur­phys were known for their vi­brant so­cial cir­cle – a best-sell­ing bi­og­ra­phy, Liv­ing Well Is the Best Re­venge, tells the tale of the Gatsby-es­que par­ties at their Villa Amer­ica on the French Riviera, where they hob­nobbed with the likes of Pi­casso, Cole Porter, Ernest Hem­ing­way and other writ­ers of the Lost Gen­er­a­tion. Fitzger­ald even mod­elled around them the char­ac­ters of Dick and Ni­cole Diver in his novel Ten­der Is the Night.

The Great De­pres­sion of 1929 may have de­pleted their re­sources, but not their re­solve, and the Mur­phys re­turned to Amer­ica, where Ger­ald ex­tended the brand to in­clude wal­lets, ci­gar hold­ers and hand­bags made with the finest Ital­ian leather and o en in col­lab­o­ra­tion with jew­eller Sea­man Schepps. Good friend Al­fred Hitch­cock fea­tured a glossy black Mark Cross women’s trav­el­ling case in his 1954 film Rear Win­dow, a de­sign that proved so pop­u­lar for the next 30 years that it sparked the rage for the brand’s cur­rent best-sell­ing range, Grace, named for the film’s much-loved lead­ing lady, Grace Kelly.

The down­fall be­gan a er Ger­ald’s death, when con­glom­er­ate Sara Lee, which also owned Coach, took over in the 1990s with the in­ten­tion of re­launch­ing Mark Cross, but ended up re­selling to an in­vest­ment firm that let it fade into near obliv­ion. In 2010, one of the in­vestors, Neal Fox, res­ur­rected the Mark Cross name. A first col­lec­tion dis­played at Bar­neys in 2012 sold out within weeks.

Mark Cross is now al­most fully syn­ony­mous with the Grace range. The brand’s spring 2017 look­book fea­tures the Grace Mini Box in shades of yel­low, li­lac, rasp­berry pink (pic­tured) and but­ter­scotch; the Grace Small Box in petal green, pale pink and white, as well as with tie-dye prints; and the Grace Large Box in black, nude, denim, corn­flower and 18K gold-plated brass. A sep­a­rate travel col­lec­tion in­cludes the Grace Trunk in black or so orange; and a Trol­ley bag in acorn, black and navy blue. Cra ed from ex­quis­ite calf, lamb or croc­o­dile leather, the bags are made in the same Ital­ian fac­tory that the Mur­phys favoured all those decades ago. Prices start from US$2,000 and go up to $25,000 (up to Dh92,000).

With fans such as Suki Water­house, Alexa Chung, Tay­lor Swi and Har­ley Viera-New­ton, Mark Cross bags are steadily be­com­ing the go-to choice of in-the­know street-style icons. Not one to shy away from the joie de vivre of its for­mer own­ers, de­signs also in­clude kitschy peace signs, Su­per Mario mush­rooms and plan­e­tary po­si­tions. Mark Cross bags are avail­able on­line at Net-a-porter.com and Match­esFash­ion.com.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.