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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Seen an episode of "Northern Exposure" lately? A Ghurka $425 leather satchel recently appeared on the show. Ghurka bags were created by Connecticut entrepreneur Marley Hodgson after he obtained the original tanning formula once used for the leather gear of the Nepali soldiers in the British and Indian armies. Made of waterproof leather and twill, Ghurka bags never wear out, are said to improve with age and can even be safely thrown into the washing machine. Aficionados include Robert Wagner, former senator Gary Hart, John McEnroe, Nicolas Cage and Sylvester Stallone.
Remember the soft brown case that Harrison Ford gave to Melanie Griffith in Working Girl? It was a Schlesinger triple-gusseted briefcase. Eric Kobren, the investment banker who started "Fidelity Insight," a newsletter that documents Fidelity funds, knows all about Schlesinger. He owns Schlesinger's three-and-a-quarter-inch oxblood attaché and its brown pilot's case, plus a Goldpfeil black portfolio. However, owning more than one case has its drawbacks. "Using too many at the same time can be confusing."
Schlesinger is one of the best-selling brands at Crouch & Fitzgerald, notes Ellen Careaga, vice president and general manager. Hartmann and Coach are also popular. Hartmann bags, which are made of belting leather and retail for $525 to $1,375, are higher priced than Schlesinger, notes Careaga. "But they're well constructed, durable and classic. It's an extremely well-made case," she adds. Coach bags, Careaga says, "are well made and very classic." They average about $400.
It's hard to imagine that a powerful business person wouldn't carry a briefcase. But Stanley Marcus, chairman emeritus of Neiman-Marcus, doesn't. He used to carry an English attaché, but today walks around with a paper sack. "I sprained my back," Marcus explains. "A paper sack is lightweight and disposable."
Then you have the power brokers who don't carry any briefcase at all. Calls to David Letterman, Henry Kravis, Ron Perelman, Richard Branson and Sumner Redstone all revealed that they don't use any attaché whatsoever. Says Ermatinger: "That's the ultimate statement; they have an assistant who carries everything for them."
Debbi J. Karpowicz, a lifestyle and travel writer, is the author of the humorous dating book, I Love Men in Tasseled Loafers. She carries a leather tote bag.
THE WORLD'S BEST BRIEFCASES
Atlas Co. of Boston
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