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An Old New Cross To Bear

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It’s been a journey from the stables through the French Riviera to get Mark W. Cross & Co. to the accessory floor of Barneys.

“Originally, Mark Cross was a maker of all things to do with horses—saddles, bridles, and harnesses,” explains Neal Fox, the chief executive officer of the 166-year-old Boston-based leather brand. “As time went on, the company added every conceivable product made of leather for men and women.” The company’s history is richer than most. Onetime owner Patrick Murphy expanded its offerings to include fine china, crystal, evening bags, and cigarette cases, and his son, Gerald, later took over the firm. Gerald and wife Sara Murphy are more famous for their close circle of confidantes than for their accessory design, per se: The Murphys were society legends in the twenties, and entertained the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter, and the F. Scott Fitzgeralds; the novelist is said to have modeled the glamorous, feuding Dick and Nicole Diver from Tender Is the Night on the couple.

So for the label’s relaunch after a 1997 closure, the new design team looked to house history to provide the inspiration. Among the bags set to hit Barneys New York exclusively on December 10 are the Scottie (above), inspired by the original Mark Cross top-handle satchel and named for the Fitzgeralds’ daughter; the Grace box bag, a replica of the one Gerald made for Grace Kelly’s character to carry in Hitchcock’s Rear Window; and the Marina clutch, based on a vintage piece. The bags come in vegetable-tanned Italian leather in nude, cuoio, black, and “Mark Cross red.” Exotic skins are in the works for next season.

Photo: Courtesy of Mark Cross