0 In Design/Décor/ Holiday

Functional, fashionable gifts that are pretty and practical

Today’s high/low gift pairing celebrates functional fashion. More budget-friendly suggestions come from a new line of vegan (polyurethane) handbags from Bentley, the Canadian company that’s been making hand-bags and travel gear since 1987. The Riona collection is eco-friendly, cruelty-free, and made with recycled plastic bottles, and the gilded accents are made with high-grade zinc, a strong and durable alloy that doesn’t tarnish over time.

Handbags, crossbody and satchel bags, totes, mini essential bags, pouches, make-up cases, wallets, card holders, key chains, and coin purses make up the collection. Items are available in black, pink, cognac, taupe, burgundy, and khaki- all very affordable. Check out this video and the grid below for a peek. NOTE TO REDAERS: Bentley supplied me with a sample of the Riona Hamilton tote. I love the pebbled black finish and the crisp profile.

SUPER CLEVER: Riona bags have a RFID (radio frequency identification) protection that blocks radio signals to keep personal data, cards, and keys safer. Metallic layers integrated into the card slots (wallets) or interior zipper pockets (handbags) prevents thieves from electronically scanning or skimming cards and personal data.

Scarves are super functional fashion item. You can use them to keep your neck warm, tie up a ponytail, or do double duty as a belt. If it’s large enough, it can work as a top, which I think is very chic. So for a splurge, I’m looking to Toronto-based photographer Kristin Sjaarda, who uses Dutch Golden Age painters as inspiration for elaborately staged still-life compositions of flora and fauna, which has included birds from the Royal Ontario Museum, and insects from the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory.

Pic: Kristin Sjaarde

Sjaarda ink-jets limited edition prints on archival lustre paper. They are glorious. She also prints the images on large (50 by 34 inches) scarves made from 100 per cent Habotai Silk with hand-turned hems. I can think of so many people who would love one.

The Many Peonies scarf I bought (for myself!) earlier this year (shown at right) was $225. There were were also 17 by 17-inch squares with serged hems ($65) that would make lovely gifts.

Both items have an eco-angle that appeals to me. The Jacquard style lining of each bag is made from about ten bottles that might otherwise end up in landfill-or in the ocean system-while Sjaarda says her images strive to preserve the beauty that’s now so threatened by climate change.

The feature image is a commissioned work by Kristin Sjaarda called Dark Dahlia.

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