If I were forced to carry one bag for the rest of my life, or if I were asked about the bag that has served me best, it would be my black ostrich bag by Fiona Ho. I have written about it several times in the past, and there are many photos of me travelling with it.
This bag must be from about 2003 – 16 years old – and yet it looks as good as new. I have used it as a handbag, work bag, weekend bag, travel bag. It has been around the world with me and has never ever failed me. It is enormous in terms of space but does not look humongous and is not heavy.
I designed this bag myself and it is probably the best-designed bag I have. Not that I have any great talent but it is everything *I* needed so it is the best design for me. It cost about $400 16 years ago. My ex husband gave me half as a birthday present and I paid the other half. It has been well worth it and paid for itself over and over. I have never in my life used a bag as much as this one. It is my go to bag whenever I need to carry loads of things.
I found a seller on ebay called Fiona Ho who agreed to make a bag to my specifications. She posted me leather swatches and I sent her photos of colours and styles I liked, as well as drawings. I will post her details below.
In the end it came to this:
1. Black genuine ostrich leather. I chose full-quill for the whole bag. Full quill is more expensive and usually ostrich pieces only use full-quill on the visible parts, so the back and underneath are often smooth. But I wanted the best all over, so full-quill it was. I knew this would be an investment bag so I was prepared to pay more for real ostrich. Ostrich wears like iron so it has not got a mark on it, despite heavy use.
2. Lined in soft black lambskin. I like good bags to have good lining so I chose light strong leather rather than cheaper cotton or canvas. It is smooth and satiny soft but has lasted really really well. In hindsight, I probably should have chosen heavy cotton because I have had to have the lambskin repaired when it tore. I would also probably have had a contract colour lining – maybe bright pink? – because black on black makes it quite hard to find things.
3. All zips are double stitched and in heavy duty metal. There is one zip along the top, one inside, one zippered outer pocket and one closing a secret compartment on the front.
4. Outside pockets of various sizes – three with buttons and one with a zip.
5. Internal filofax holder, mobile phone holder and PDA holder
6. Long double-stitched double-strength straps. If I had to do it again I would have had shorter straps so I could use it as an over-arm bag as well as a shoulder bag.
7. magazine/newspaper flap at the back.
8. Full length secret compartment to one side of the pockets. I use this to keep my passports etc.
This bag ‘came to fame’ on my trip to Van Der Spek in 2014. It ended up in many of the photographs and people were interested in what it was. Over the years people have contacted me and asked me if they could use my design to have bags made. One of them was Tan, who had a bag made in glorious blue.
More recently though, Michelle had a bag made by Fiona (who remembered me and my ostrich bag) herself, and it is almost a spitting image of mine. It was really weird to see the photographs because it is like looking at my own one. I am so glad Michelle had this done! And I am thrilled that Fiona could reproduce it exactly. Gives me hope that if my one ever gives out, I can have another one made.
I have given several people all the measurements over the years and am always happy to help. This is my own design and I don’t mind who uses it.
It’s here, it’s here!! I am so excited, you have no idea, I have been coveting your bag since 2016! I only made a few changes to my “Janet” bag, ( this is what Fiona and I have been calling it all along, so “Janet” bag it is) mine is about 2 inches longer, I didn’t do the secret pocket in the front, and I didn’t do the top zipper. I don’t travel much so I won’t need to keep it closed often… Other than that, it’s almost identical and I think Fiona did an amazing job!😍 Thanks for your help and extra measurements!
Find Fiona below: