Rebecca Minkoff for Saks bags. Photo: Courtesy of Saks

Saks Fifth Avenue is about to release an exclusive new line of handbags in collaboration with designer Rebecca Minkoff -- a heady blend of downtown cool and uptown refinement.

Starting April 30, the Rebecca Minkoff Collection will hit Saks's shelves across the country.

That word "Collection" winks at a new level of luxury. Saks gave Minkoff carte blanche when it came to choosing materials for the line.

Last September, the designer traveled to an Italian trade show to source leathers. "It was candyland!" she gushed to StyleList, her eyes gleaming at the memory of all that buttery calfskin and lambskin. "I'd never been able to have that freedom before."

Round, grooved metal studs punctuate the line, marching up handles, zig-zagging across a clutch, and clustering in a dizzying grid.

This signature element was inspired by a studded vintage belt worn to the office by an employee. Minkoff knew a bullseye when she saw it.

Three handbag styles also have satisfyingly thick, round chain handles. The hardware (nearly all custom-made) appears in two tones: gunmetal and a warm rose gold.

The designer's personal favorite: the Side Saddle bag from the Rebecca Minkoff Collection. Photo: Courtesy of Saks

The shapes also nod to motorcycle saddle bags and pouches -- rich uncles to the "Easy Rider" collection in Minkoff's standard handbag line.

For the seven Saks styles, Minkoff riffed on a few of her most popular shapes. "I twisted up the best-selling bags, like the Morning After Bag," she told StyleList, without skewing too trendy.
Besides the inevitable black, there are a few bursts of color. A small, cinched purse comes in citrus green, gleaming with studs and two necklace-like, multi-strand chain handles. The trimmed-down version of the Morning After Bag pops in a strong pink or an icy pale blue.

There's also a chameleon-like lambskin in a pinkish taupe, a fabulously adaptable neutral shade.

The Saks team was drawn in by this combination of serious craftsmanship and lighthearted style. Lincoln Moore, fashion director for women's accessories at Saks Fifth Avenue, told StyleList, "we loved that the collection has a designer sensibility and look, with upgraded fabrications and hardware, offered at a compelling price."

Well, compelling is one way of putting it. Prices start around $500 for the smallest pouch and rise close to the four-digit mark.

Minkoff confessed that the taupe Side Saddle messenger bag is her favorite of the bunch -- fitting right in with this spring's cross-body bag trend.