You may not know her name, but you should. Yes, for over 15 years now, donned on the arms of fashion’s beau monde, you’ve surely been stalking her work.

It was in 2000, with the release of Balenciaga’s City bag, that Myriam Schaefer became the woman who forever altered our handbag vernacular to include that simple, singular prefix: It.

What now seems compulsory for all pret-a-porter collections was a first of its kind. “There was no It-bag at this time,” explains the through-and-through Parisian designer. “I designed the first handbag for Balenciaga.” And pandemonium ensued.

So when it came to forming her namesake label, founded in 2012, the one-time “right-hand of Jean-Paul Gaultier” chose instead to dress-down her bells and whistles. The result? In a market of oft-glitzy offerings, Schafer’s exquisite simplicity absolutely stands out.

Her impeccably made handbag line—ranging from top-handles to bowlers to clutches—marries minimal hardware with intricate detailing. Subtle character pops, like a club stripe here or a dotted stitch there, or her signature circular cutouts, give the collection its unique cult of confidence.

“The driving force behind my designs is the personal pleasure I feel from wearing a handbag I like. I think about the women who are looking for handbags that combine quality and style with a touch of originality,” says Schaefer. Functionality is important, too, and perhaps the ultimate luxury. “I’m inspired by an unpredictable city where you have to carry most of your life in your handbag.” For women on the go, ease is everything.

In her Paris-based atelier, the made-in-Italy designs go through a rigorous test-drive process—as hands-on as a handbag demands to be. “My appreciation for materials is based on experience, touching and feeling the quality of leather,” says Schaefer. Like the aging of a fine Bordeaux, the process can’t be rushed. Every detail is carefully considered, including the traceability and treatment of animals and leathers used.

Looking forward, Schaefer envisions her line expanding in an elegant groundswell. (We agree; pandemonium is passé.) With a Tibi collaboration on the go this spring, it’s clear she’s tapped into the future generation of beau monde. In 2017, there’s nothing holding her back. Not even her perfect demureness.

01. Mini Lord bag in bleu gris. $6150.
02. Grand Dickens envelope in noir. $3800.
03. Primo bag in marine. $5300.
04. Curzio satin box in navy. $3800.