So goes the criticism I received on my most recent eBay purchase, a handbag from Monica Lewinsky’s short-lived 1999 collection. The homespun design features a Laura Ashley-esque floral pattern sewn over a parakeet green, faux-velvet base. No matter what anyone says, I love it.
Even as the most questionable elements of noughties fashion sneak back into style (see: low-rise jeans, visible thongs, and chunky Steve Madden flip flops), The Real Monica Inc. remains a neglected footnote from the era.
Lewinsky’s tote bags are relegated to the laundry list of her first awkward post-Clinton ventures, like working as a Jenny Craig spokesperson and hosting a questionable Fox dating show where male contestants competed for love—in wrestler masks.
Kooky hustles aside, Lewinsky needed the money. In a 2000 New York Timesfeature, the former White House intern admitted that she started the collection to help get out of debt. Working through legal fees to the tune of $1.5 million, with a name the press mercilessly maligned for months, the amateur knitter had little to lose.
Though every bag came with a tag that reads, “Made just for you by Monica,” that's not entirely true. According to the Times, Monica designed the handbags, but each one was handmade in a Louisiana plant.
The totes were stocked by New York's Henri Bendel, L.A.’s Fred Segal, and the World Wide Web’s TheRealMonicaInc.com.
Through her representatives, Lewinsky (very kindly) declined to comment.