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What really goes into a woman's handbag?

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A lost handbag elicited no sympathy

A lost handbag elicited no sympathy

Mandy Maher says her handbag is her life.

Mandy Maher says her handbag is her life.

Vanessa Kilbride's Prada bag is her most prized possession.

Vanessa Kilbride's Prada bag is her most prized possession.

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A lost handbag elicited no sympathy

Deirdre Reynolds spoke to four women about what makes their bag so indispensable.

Geraldine Fox

Bride-to-be Geraldine Fox (30) from Meath, who designs handbags for Jennifer Lopez in New York, is set to tie the knot in a few weeks -- and reveals the first thing she bought was a bag.

'I began working for the Jennifer Lopez Handbag Collection last year. For girls, it's a great way to keep up with their favourite celeb without spending a fortune.

"From the style to the contents, a woman's handbag is a personal thing.

"As handbag designer, one of the perks of the job is that I get to 'wear test' all the bags in the collection. I rotate handbags every two weeks and have had to buy storage boxes to fit them in my wardrobe!

"At the moment, I'm carrying an Alexander Wang Emile Tote and use small make-up bags to keep items together, otherwise, I would never find anything.

"I'm getting married and the first thing I bought was a Swarovski Crystal clutch -- although I'm sure my bridesmaids will end up carrying it!"

Jean Martin

Fuzion Communications account executive Jean Martin (25) from Cork loves both designer and budget handbags -- but daren't tot up how much she's splashed on holdalls over the years.



'As a child, I remember refusing to go to Mass on Sunday without my handbag. Back then, it contained all the essentials: sweets, a few coppers and, if I was allowed, my mother's lipstick.



"Two decades on, I dread to think how many handbags I own. For my birthday, my family usually chip in to get me a designer bag or, if I see one I like, I'll save up and get it myself. But I also have plenty of cheaper ones that I bought at vintage markets and high street stores such as TK Maxx.



"With clothes becoming more mass-produced, your bag helps you stand out from the crowd. However, my handbag is more than just a fashion accessory -- it's a survival kit. On any given day, it could contain hair straighteners and a change of clothes and shoes, as well as the usual items.



"It can get quite heavy -- but I'd feel naked without it. If I'm going out at the weekend though, just like when I was a little girl, I only bring the absolute essentials: money, ID and lip gloss!"

Vanessa Kilbride

Visual merchandising manager Vanessa Kilbride (34) from Terenure, Dublin, says her €550 Prada bag is her most prized possession -- until she can save enough for a Chanel one.



'I've been mad about handbags for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I've built up quite a collection.



"After the last clear-out, I've got about 30 handbags left. Some are still sitting in their dust bag waiting to be worn -- yet I keep buying more! When it comes to handbags, bigger is better.



"On a day-to-day basis, my bag is stuffed with: wallet, car keys, iPad, work phone, personal phone, camera, notepad and pen, tape measure (for work), sunglasses, eye drops, make-up, tissues, hand cream, perfume, bottle of water, mints and a copy of Vogue.



"It's a bit ridiculous. But it means I'm prepared for whatever the day throws at me. The most I've ever spent on a handbag was €550 on a Prada one I got on sale. But my dream bag is a Chanel Jumbo Flap bag, which costs about €3,000. As far as I'm concerned, it's an investment. You never get too old or fat for your favourite handbag."

Mandy Maher

Mum-of-three Mandy Maher (40), who runs Catwalk Model Agency in Galway, is armed with everything from a toothbrush to holy water in her trusty Mulberry handbag.



'My handbag is my life. I carry everything but the kitchen sink in it. As a working mum of three, I often have to go straight from work to pick up the kids from school or to a social event. So there's everything from my diary to a toothbrush and baby wipes in there!



"I also carry a small bottle of holy water at all times to keep me safe. Although I buy lots of high street handbags, I've got a thing for good bags. My favourite is the Mulberry Bayswater (€870), which I have in black, tan and wine.



"However, I also picked up a great 'Louis Vuitton' handbag in Italy for €80 -- and no one can tell the difference!



"I agree with the judge who said that handbag theft can be very traumatic.



"My mother had her handbag snatched last year and still hasn't recovered. I once had my wallet stolen from my handbag and was devastated.



"Losing my handbag would be like losing my right arm."

Irish Independent