My Week With A $4000 Snakeskin Handbag

Illustration for article titled My Week With A $4000 Snakeskin Handbag

Perhaps you recall: I own one handbag. Which is why under normal circumstances, I might have glazed over today's Daily Mail story on the booming python handbag industry, wherein poor Indonesians venture into the jungle and risk being eaten alive by the 20-foot long endangered snakes they are trying to trap so they can nail them to trees, peel off their skins and toss their still-living carcasses into piles where they eventually rot to death, then repeat the process so they can sell them for a few bucks a yard to middlemen who sell them for a few more bucks a yard to luxury goods companies who sew a yard or two into $4,000 purses. Because, you know, there are dogs dying in Iraq, and I can only take so much bad news in one day, and it takes a lot of brain power to process how $4,000 + willful participation in such an orgy of pointless cruelty to serve the same function as my admittedly gross $20 canvas bag could possibly be worthwhile. Well, meet my status bag! It's a python skin Lambertson Truex (yours for $3,995!) and as a special treat for being such a good blogger, Anna borrowed it from Bag, Borrow or Steal, so I wouldn't humiliate myself at Fashion Week... Did it help me? Hurt my enemies? That's what the jump is for, guys!

Okay, seriously, I was going to do this as a "diary" but it would be the most pointless thing ever. No one fucking noticed. And the thing is, everyone at Fashion Week is in a frenzy of fake compliment-showering; I fielded literally eight separate compliments at a single party on my black Moleskine notebook. The one thing I can say for the bag is that, while carrying it in line for the Diesel show, I slyly cut in front of a few clumps of people, and no one told me off, and then a few minutes later when another girl attempted to do the same, two other ladies totally took her to school. Big whup. I didn't get into the show. Finally on my last day with the bag, I went on a date at a fancy restaurant with a banker. We had an animated conversation about income inequality and the Beijing Olympics and the Turkish economy, when finally he blurted out, "Your bag kind of scares me." Yeah, the feeling is mutual.


Python Skinned And Left To Die [Daily Mail]

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Jenna Sauers

I have a serious snake phobia. Once I saw a (harmless, grass) snake sunning itself on the footpath outside my apartment building in college, and I wouldn't walk on that side of the street for the rest of my lease.

I've also been a home sewer ever since I grew to my adult height of 5'9.5" at the age of 13 and store clothes stopped fitting. Last year, I needed a new bag to carry my laptop, books, and lady-fixings, and I was so disappointed with what was on the market, I figured, Why not make one myself?

Cue hours of Internet research on leathercraft and time spent wondering if I needed a gouger and a skiver, or just a skiver, or if I could just get an awl and make it work.

I also found a dude in Twentynine Palms, CA, who would sell me chromium-tanned elaphe skins. "Elaphe" is a fancy name for the garden snake I find so unspeakably horrifying. I suddenly really really wanted to make my bag with snakeskin. I figured Bud from Twentynine Palms was a big step up from Julio on eBay who was offering to ship an Anaconda skin direct from Cartagena, no CITES questions asked. So I bought two of the elaphes, and used every single scrap to trim a cream top-grain leather bag I get complimented on daily.

And I actually enjoy the fact that I, despite my paralytic response to snakes when I encounter them in the wild, am nonetheless a member of the species which kills the snake. I'm proud of my bag and I don't care that it's made of skins ripped from the twitching backs of two grass snakes. The first time I unrolled my supple, brown, scaly craft materials I was so frightened by the animals' evident length and girth I had to roll the skins back up and only unfurl them stretch by stretch, as I needed pattern pieces. Now, when I look at my purse, there's no vestigial fear. I conquered the freaky dead piece of snake and turned it into something beautiful. Sure, leave the pythons in the wild and let the Indonesians go back to doing whatever they were doing before death by reticulated python became their main workplace hasard, but let the Buds of this world farm, skin, kill, and carefully tan all the ugly little (or, in my case, freaking huge) elaphes they want. Because my bag is pretty, damn it.