The world's most expensive handbag Divorcee Lisa Voice had a fire recently in what she tellingly describes as "the master bedroom suite". The place was virtually gutted, and she and her two children had a miraculous escape. "We are lucky to be alive," she admits. So why the long face and air of bereavement? She believes every woman will understand her plight. "I'm mourning the loss of my handbags," she explains. "About 200 of them are gone and I feel bereft. There were around 80 Chanel bags - all bespoke or one-offs. Some cost £10,000." Once, women such as Lisa - who spends more on a single bag than many of us have ever spent on a car - would have been regarded as oddities - extraordinarily rich oddities, granted, but nonetheless barking mad. Suddenly, however, she seems quite normal. Outrageously, expensive handbags are everywhere - leaving those of us who still balk at a £120 price tag, or regard Accessorize as a legitimate place to shop, to wonder if we are the ones out of step. Selfridges has just reported that the average price of its designer bags is now £850 - up 55 per cent since 2005. Even Topshop, that bastion of no-nonsense shopping, is charging £80 for one of its leather bags - one that is, rather bewilderingly, flying off the shelves. This week, things got even more insane in the keepy-uppy world of handbag purchasing. The world's most expensive handbag got that little bit more expensive - overtaking the price of a Mercedes car, no less. And, in time, we will surely all suffer. The Louis Vuitton bag in question - the Tribute Patchwork, should you need to know - retails at an awesome £23,484, nearly £3,000 more than a Mercedes C180 Coupe SE. It justifies its price by being made from cut-up bits of 15 different Louis Vuitton bags and incorporates rare feathers and alligator skin. Only one will be sold in the UK, but all indications are that it's not likely to be languishing on a shelf for too long. For those who will be disappointed, there are plenty of consolation prizes. The second most expensive bag in the world is now a Fendi one, made from chinchilla and sable, and priced at an eye-watering £20,000. Next, way down the "affordable" list, is a £13,000 crocodile-skin Carolyn bag from Marc Jacobs. Or what about a Valextra Carla - made of alligator hide - for a piffling £11,160? They are truly extraordinary prices for an item that was once regarded as little more than something in which to carry your lipstick and keys. But who are the women who will be scrabbling for these bags? And more importantly where do they get that sort of money from? Lisa Voice describes herself a self-made music and property millionaire. She was the girlfriend of Fifties rock n' roll star Billy Fury - and freely admits that she regards her handbags as pieces of art. Until the fire, she had 200 bags, estimated at £100,000. "I like beautiful things, and I consider a wonderful bag to be a work of art. I work hard and play hard. I also choose to buy expensive items. If I see a bag I like, I buy it, simple as that. I buy in bulk, too, as I don't have time to shop. I'll get one in black, one in red, one in pink." The price tag, then, doesn't really come into it. "I can't remember the first expensive bag I bought - it must have been in Biba - but I was still a child. Now, it isn't really about money. I like the quality and the hard work that goes into a wonderful bag. It's an indulgence but I've earned it.