A Handle on the World
From Asprey to Zero Halliburton, Attachés Have Cachet. They Carry Clout--and Your Business Papers.
Debbi J. Karpowicz
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95
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Yet another English maker of first-class cases is Papworth, whose four-inch and five-inch overlap cases are sold at Crouch & Fitzgerald. Drawing inspiration from Norfolk, England, is Alfred Dunhill, whose best-selling case, the Norfolk, is synthetic with brown leather trim and a signature plaid-cotton lining. It sells for $595.
In France you'll pay through the nez for an Hermès or Cartier briefcase. Hermès' best seller, for example, is its $3,175 handmade sac à dépêche featuring 24-karat-gold-plate-over-brass hardware. Cartier's bordeaux leather case with combination lock and jacquard lining is $2,250. In Germany you'll find Goldpfeil (pronounced: gold file) cases, whose production requires more than 100 different procedures. The cases are made from the hides of cows and calves raised in the Alps. Then there's the Seeger line, whose loyal customers include Johnny Carson, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. Known as the cashmere of leather, Seeger products are handcrafted of nappa lambskin that's tanned in aged vats, resulting in incomparable softness. Business cases range from $1,275 to $1,850.
If your Champagne tastes run more neutral, you might prefer Bally of Switzerland briefcases. For quality Italian briefcases, consider the examples made by Gucci, known for its red-and-green stripe, and Trussardi, whose symbol is the greyhound.
In Austria you might shop at Schulz of Vienna, which makes cases for Georg Riedel, president of Riedel Crystal of Austria. "Schulz is a craftsman who produces any crazy idea you propose to him," Riedel says. Riedel's cases include a $600 dark-green soft case that holds his phone and cigar box, plus a custom-made hard attaché case that contains four Riedel crystal wineglasses and a corkscrew. "It's my constant case that I carry everywhere...like a pet," Riedel quips.
Back in the States you'll find equally distinctive business cases. One brand with star quality is Zero Halliburton, an aluminum case featuring housed wheels, triple-digit combination locks and continual piano hinge. In other words, designed to last under the most adverse conditions.
The $476, three-inch-wide silver attachés are easily recognizable because they have appeared in countless movies and television shows, including The Pelican Brief, Guarding Tess and "Murphy Brown." It's also the case that Arnold Schwarzenegger carried in Total Recall.
In 1988 the company produced 50 limited-edition four-inch cases plated with 14-karat gold, which retailed for $2,500 each. One buyer was a Japanese collector who resold his for $9,000. Yet another buyer was the rock star formerly known as Prince.
What does a Zero Halliburton say about its owner? "It says, 'I want to be noticed,' and it's very popular in L.A.," notes Ermatinger of the Luggage and Leather Goods Manufacturers.
Consultant Bixler is more succinct: "It says L.A., stick out like a sore thumb in Boston, not appropriate in Chicago, pretentious in Atlanta, city slicker in Houston.''
Other brands have also given Academy Award-worthy performances. Another star of stage and screen is the Atlas Company of Boston (based in Philadelphia), whose cases have appeared in numerous movies and commercials. These bags, which are a staple on Wall Street, are frequently given as rewards in law firms when an attorney reaches partner status. The best seller, a four-inch attaché in Irish handmade leather, is about $485.
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