Steven Dann is a shoe store at 81 Middle Neck...

Steven Dann is a shoe store at 81 Middle Neck Rd. in Great Neck. (Nov. 1, 2010) Credit: Michael E. Ach

Steven Dann isn't a scientist, but he's got an experiment worth trying-with handbags. If he puts a large, sumptuous leather bag out on a shelf at his shoe and handbag boutique in Great Neck, customers offer the standard, rational reply: How lovely, what a useful size, blah blah blah.

Slap a bow on that baby, and it's a whole different story.

"Ohhh, it's so prettyyyyyy," says Dann, trailing off with as many y's in "pretty" as he can manage in one breath.

"When a woman sees a bow, it reminds her of her youth," he says. Bows represent freshness, femininity, perhaps a smidge of seduction.

And they're everywhere this season. On dresses, T-shirts, handbags, hair clips. You name it.

We dare you to head over to, say, Saks Fifth Avenue at the Walt Whitman Mall, and try to avoid them. They pop up on Prada's scrunchy travel ballet flats, Stuart Weitzman's black satin sandals, a Red Valentino wool gray toggle coat (with bows instead of horn closures).

"This fall, there was a return to curvy, ladylike silhouettes, and the natural response of designers was to embellish shoes, bags and clothes with bows," says Lucky magazine accessories director Julia Kalachnikoff. "Bows are also always a prevalent trend for holiday."

And no wonder, what with all the gift wrap people have laying about.

"Bows are very flirtatious," Dann says. "You kind of want to unwrap the bow to see what's hiding inside."

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