The Handbag Gene

04 Jun 2019

Bright and colorful handmade Italian purses are the rage at Le Feme Chateau

By Emma Cross     Photos by Mollie Tobias

It’s no surprise that Deborah Myatt, owner of Le Feme Chateau in Pinehurst, relishes in sourcing Italian- and American-made accessories for her shop. Myatt, whose classic, colorful style is reflected throughout her store, thinks she was “cheated at birth. I should have been born Italian. I love the food, cars, glass, style…and their bags. No one does leather like the Italians.”

Even though Myatt carries handmade wraps, wallets, pillows, jewelry, and more in her store, people come from as far as Dallas and Chicago for her Italian purses. Inspiration for carrying these beauties started when Myatt procured her own handbag from a factory in Italy. Originally, she opened “Le Faux Chateau” for the 2005 US Open carrying gifts and florals. However, it was her own piccola bursa (little purse) that inspired her to fine-tune the focus of her merchandise, and the name of her shop became “Le Feme Chateau”, for there are truly feminine treasures in her village store. This decision would not surprise Myatt’s father, who said his daughter “always had the handbag gene.”

When Myatt pondered the custom Italian factory that produced her bag, she said, “They made [purses) the old-fashioned way―where people cut and sew them by hand. Mainly, I started carrying them because I wanted one.

Once I got my bag, I didn't know if people’s reactions would be the same as mine. I dipped my toe in the water (carrying the purses). It grew and grew. I realized women don’t always want the same branded bag—it’s a personal accessory.”

Clearly, Myatt likes and buys unique pieces that aren’t found in other stores or on Amazon.

“I only sell something I believe in,” Myatt said. With elegant taste, Myatt adds there are three details that she loves about Italian purses: “design, quality, and color.” Those details are curated throughout her store and seen in the variety of products she offers.

When it comes to design, Myatt doesn’t believe in sacrificing space in her bags. Over the years, cell phones have gotten bigger, thus squeezing out space for lipstick, credit cards, and keys. Myatt ensures this isn’t the case for her bags. She even recently came out with a travel purse that has two zippers cleverly hidden on the outside, a perfect location to hide a passport during travel.

Need some summer recommendations for travel, weddings, cruises and poolside?

Myatt’s favorite summertime purse, the “Bamboo Toggle Closure” is casually elegant with bamboo hardware and semi-structured/soft leather. 

For a stylish piece to update your warm weather wardrobe, consider an orange and pink wrapa favorite cover up for summer. It’s perfect for a wedding, al fresco dining and strolling around a cruise ship.

The Italian purses range from $100-$450, and the Baby Bag is the store’s most popular purse. It’s surprisingly big on the inside and comes in over 30 vibrant colors and leathers.

The World’s Best Tote, a soft pebbled-leather purse, is so forgiving and fun that one of her regulars from Chicago brought friends for a golf weekend and each friend left Pinehurst with a Tote in a different color.

“The store is social,” Myatt said, reminiscing. Over the years, long-time customers have become personal friends. Her most memorable customer was Grayson, a 7-year-old, who came into the store with his mother last summer. 

Grayson dressed like a 40-year-old golfer, complete with “preppy shorts, a needlepoint belt, sunglasses, golf cap, polo shirt and hands in his pockets,” Myatt said. 

He walked into the store with a swagger and said, “You have some very nice things in here…I like your color.”

Myatt thanked him while the mother and son shopped. When it was time to check out, she overheard Grayson whisper to his mother, “I want to tip her, she’s been very helpful.”

“It’s your money,” Grayson’s mother said. 

Myatt saw a $10 bill on the desk. “That’s for you,” Grayson said. “You’ve been very kind.”

“I burst into tears,” Myatt said.

Grayson let Myatt hug him. She told him to invest his money and come visit her again. 

At Le Feme Chateau, a woman’s castle may be her home, and there is always room for friends, who want to add a little color to their lives.

Myatt’s semi-retirement store hours are Thursday - Saturday, 11a.m. to 5p.m. 910-295-8300,

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