It’s in the Bag!

Since taking the reins of her mother’s eponymous luxury handbag company, 18 months ago, Lana Marks CEO Tiffany Isaacs has been on a roll. She realized that to make a purse iconic, she’d have to create a bag that does double-duty – not just an object of desire. 

It would have to have the quiet, ladylike qualities that have attracted the world’s best dressed women—Angelina Jolie, Chloë Sevigny and Princess Diana (after whom another Lana Marks handbag is famously named). 

And it would also have to connect the sartorial “punch” for which Isaacs and her coterie of fashionable friends—realtor-to-the-stars Frances Peter; health-and-wellness guru Ivey Leidy; PR maven Elisabeth Munder; and Pioneer Linens proprietor Marissa Murphy—are known. 

Voila! The Capri clutch was born.

Krystian von Speidel (Courtesy of Nick Mele)

Lana J. Marks started her brand 30 years ago with one handbag, called the Lunchbox, in red alligator. Fashionable friends took notice, and soon the brand was available at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. When Marks was appointed ambassador to South Africa in 2019, she didn’t have to look far when deciding to whom to hand the business. 

“I love that we’ve kept the business in the family. I may be biased, but Tiffany has impeccable taste and unparalleled business sense,” said Marks. “The past four years have been a marathon. I’m looking forward to spending some time with my grandkids, and reconnecting with family and friends.”

Tiffany Isaacs, 37, grew up in Palm Beach and recalls the family business from an early age. “If you don’t know your family business, what do you know?” Isaacs laughs. Prior to joining Lana Marks, Isaacs had a successful career in fashion, with stints at Ralph Lauren, Net-a-Porter and Selfridge’s. 

As a child she accompanied her mother to French tanning factories where alligator, ostrich and lizard skins are prepared before final crafting in Italy. The Capri clutch can take three days to stitch by hand. The Cleopatra bag—a favorite on the red carpet—can take over two weeks. Isaacs interacts with the children of the factory owners with whom her mother collaborated for 30 years. 

“My mother built a legacy that I’m trying to make fun and playful, with a nod to her couture style, and also making it fashion-forward and current,” said Isaacs.

“One of the things my mother and I have in common is that we design for women. Lightweight, well made, and feminine: that’s women designing for women.” A key to success?  Allow customers to choose design elements and colors to create unique, one-of-a-kind bags.

Lana Marks CEO Tiffany Isaacs keeps an eye on the competition surrounded by a selection of designs from the storied atelier. (Courtesy of Nick Mele)

The Capri clutch, and indeed all Lana Marks bags, are thoughtful in their design. Especially remarkable about the Capri—whether in lizard ($3,500), ostrich ($4,200) or alligator ($6,500)—is its lightness and diminutive scale, belying its spaciousness. The double gusset design provides room for all the necessities of life: glasses, wallet, keys, phone. Even a special pocket for valet stubs. As a busy working mother of three children, Isaacs test-drove the bag before its release. Yes, there’s room for snack packages of Goldfish Crackers.

Adding to desirability are optional straps made of faceted, semi-precious stones. Isaacs personally hand-picks these jewels. All Lana Marks handbags come with standard leather arm straps. The jeweled straps are available with jade, agate, onyx, garnet, rose quartz, tiger eye and turquoise, and they add to the wow-factor. With either leather or jeweled strap, the bag fits perfectly under the arm, as Isaacs readily demonstrates. “You can wear one bag four different ways,” Isaacs declares. The jeweled straps also fit on any existing Lana Marks clutch.

Plans for the Lana Marks brand include a fresh marketing campaign, alongside a new look for the website. The longtime Esplanade retail location has moved to a prime spot at 23 Via Mizner, just opposite Renato’s. 

For a new generation of Lana Marks clients, it might be easier to give directions as around the corner from family-friendly Pizza al Fresco. It’s a prime location for a colorful array of beautiful bags, reaching a new generation of shoppers while keeping longtime customers satisfied.

“Our customers want something unique and special: a quality item that will remain in their closet longer than one season,” said Isaacs. “Our bags stand the test of time.”  

Sometimes, the daughter steps up to steer the ship. With Tiffany Isaacs at the helm, Lana Marks sets sail for new horizons. 

(This article originally appeared in the April 5, 2021 edition of “Notables” in The Palm Beach Post)