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Clear handbags: a sight for everyone's eyes

How many of us would invite strangers off the street to take a tour of our closets?

Would you follow that up with a gander at the contents of the medicine cabinet? Then, perhaps pull open the dresser drawers for a close inspection of what lurks in the bottom of the underwear drawer?

Not likely.

Well, think of a woman's purse as a portable closet. A closet blessedly and firmly shut to all prying eyes. Which is why the popularity of the see-through handbag this season is so very peculiar. From Target to Dolce & Gabbana, the transparent purse is a big seller.

The Chanel "naked bag" shown here was created by Karl Lagerfeld, one of the chicest designers on the planet.

He made it in reaction to airline regulations requiring travelers to put cosmetics in clear plastic bags. It was just a fashion-y joke, right?

I buy my Baggies in bulk for a few bucks at Jewel, but this clear plastic bag, trimmed in white patent calfskin and embellished with the Chanel interlocking C's, costs $950. The larger model goes for $1,250.

Cost aside, what would possess anyone to parade their messy ways for all to see?

Even the neatniks among us, after all, carry embarrassing drugs (Rx only, of course), the occasional used Kleenex and products sufficiently personal that they still command the euphemism "feminine hygiene."

Why show all that off to passersby, not to mention co-workers and potential boyfriends?

A Chanel rep reveals that among the celebrities who own this purse is a woman so cutting-edge that she is designated a fashion "muse" -- actress Chloe Sevigny.

Only a pristine lifestyle admits a purse of this stunning transparency.

Is it possible that there are no lint-covered Lifesavers, revealing to-do lists or female necessities jumbled in Ms. Sevigny's handbag?

If so, give her an Emmy for overcoming the inner slob that affects us all. And an Oscar for tidiness.

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Source: Accessories Magazine, news reports.

Fun facts about handbags:

- Sales of handbags generated an estimated $6.9 billion in 2006, up from $5.2 billion in 2002.

- The most expensive handbag in the world is the Hermes crocodile Birkin bag with diamond hardware for $150,000.

- Women buy an average of four handbags a year.

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