Classical frame bags in medium and large sizes are the centre of attention in the autumn/winter '96 collection by German leather goods manufacturer Comtesse Lederwaren. The collection includes cocktail bags - very much in fashion again. All are hand-crafted in traditional and exotic materials. Handbags have been produced in crocodile, ostrich and box calf and in Comtesse's trademark material - horsehair from the tails of wild Mongolian ponies. Nature is the inspiration for the new range. Drawn from the autumn fields and winter gardens of Europe, a rich menu of earthy colour is served in chestnut brown, corn yellow and avocado green - reflections of a classic September on the continent. Winter gardens in Europe at the end of the 19th century were an outrageous extravagance. Framed in stained glass, these pampered collections of flowers created a riot of colour when sunlight shone through, reminding their opulent owners of summer. The new collection is Retro, reflecting the mood of the 1960s which has been a major trend for more than two years. Comtesse bags are used by some members of the royal households of Japan and Thailand, according to Comtesse. It is easy to see what has attracted the rich and famous to the Comtesse line. Each of the masterpieces contains about 60 individual components and goes through 240 production steps in Obertshausen, Germany. From the leather skin to the smallest latch, everything is made by hand. Attention to detail, a German strong point, is bought to the fore and shows up in the small hand mirrors and coin purses found in every bag. Even the metal fittings used in the handles, locks and clasps are treated as pieces of jewellery in their own right, hand-made and polished by jewellery locksmiths in Paris and Florence. The bags were designed by Ingeborg Kopp-Noack and her husband, Hilmar Noack. Creating a collection takes three to four months and the result is about 50 new designs in as many as 15 seasonal colours. 'My design concept is simple,' Ms Kopp-Noack said. 'I enjoy surrounding myself with lovely things and I admire skilful craftsmanship in all fields. I try to give my collection a sense of beauty and perfection.'