'Tis the Season
I have this thing about bags. You know, those things designed to carry your things. Funny thing: the more things I have, the more I lust for The One. Perfect. Bag. That one elusive object of desire I have yet to define.
And so I carry on, as carry on I must.
Our mothers called them purses. Pocketbooks. Back in the cash-and-carry day when ladies kept white gloves in tote, along with bright red lipsticks and those things called coin purses to stash spare change inside their, uh, purses.
Handbags -- considered by Sigmund Freud to represent female genitalia in the language of dreams -- used to be little more than a stylish essential, a well planned investment one could carry for years, if not for a lifetime. My old trusty Coach a case in point.
I don’t get it
How did the ordinary handbag slip into the status stratosphere? The term It Bag was coined in the 90s with the inexplicably explosive growth of the handbag market in high fashion. Logos became emblems, badges of shopping honor worn by the hip, the chic and the most fashion-forward of consumers. Designers competed for those customers, young and old around the world, to produce that One, Single Sensational iconic design to be celebrated by the press, or better yet to be seen on the Red Carpet.
They were oversized, strappy, and frankly kinda schleppy, but among the more successful individual designs created during this time were the Paddington by Chloé, @$1540 retail, now a "bargain" on ebay at $899; the Motorcycle by Balenciaga, @$1750 retail, “pre-owned" on bagborroworsteal.com at $1145; and the Alexa by Mulberry, a rather baggy looking thing still hanging around Harrods in London or on net-a-porter.com@$1650.
Other creators of coveted bags that rose through the ranks: Chanel (forever Chanel), Bottega Veneta, Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, Burberry, and the ubiquitous Louis Vuitton. All still carry on today in department stores, duty-free shops in airports and in knock-offs found and sold on the web.
If the appeal of the IT Bag is on the wane, sorry, I’m a bit out of step, still hunting for The One. Rarely do I walk through a department store without a pawing through a handbag or two on display. Is it the supple leather, the shiny new hardware, the strappy sensual curve thrown over the shoulder? What is it that I find so seductive, so promising and yet so impossibly stupid about a handbag with a price equivalent to twice the median weekly earnings for full-time working women in America?
Get real real.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: WTFC, “Go shop at Target, honey. Buy yourself a Burlington. Whatever. Get a life!"
In “virtual reality,”my favorite place to shop for bags is online. Here I can lay to waste my leisure time, browse with the best, visit the swankiest sites, hit “Add to Bag,” then quietly, discretely move to the next page, credit card safely out of reach.
The black hole theory
What feeds this obsession? What could possibly be missing in my life that compels me so to shop without purchase? Go figure.
On a day to day basis, I carry a serviceable if not lovely black shoulder bag of fine (enough) leather. Trouble with a basic black bag, things get lost. Hunting through those deep dark recesses and crevices of its multiple pockets, I need a flashlight to find car keys, cell phone, that red lipstick and oh, yes, that occasional stray black glove.
And so my virtual shopping obsession has yet to staunch my desire for IT. I hold the flame still burning for The Mother of All Bags.
Oh, how I carry on.
My latest jag for bags is the designer Reed Krakoff. Not the most expensive designer on the block, but no slouch, even so for a slouchy hobo kinda bag.
In search of the perfect evening bag, an accessory for a wedding, I was smitten by a small leather woven box with a clever little knot clasp. Ah yes, The Knot! Perfectly tied and true. A clutch known in better circles as a classic Botttega Veneta. A collector's item, a handbag of heirloom quality. Tempting as a BV may be, there’s no way I could spend that much for a bag designed to hold nothing more than a compact and credit card.
Vintage Bottega Veneta Circa Whoknows
Chanel? A little stodgy quilted affair on a chain? That too, out of the question!
Another designer bag that’s gotten under my skin is Chloe. My niece(-in -law) just came back from Vegas with a Chloe. Nice winnings. Good for her! There but for the grace . . . but anyway . . . so it goes with bag envy.
Add to cart
Handbags aren’t the only category of bags that appeal to me. Unfortunately. There are camera bags -- bags with specific requirements: to have and to hold multiple lenses, batteries, memory cards, just what you “need.”
There’s the laptop bag, with it’s little accessory bag, now supplanted by the iPad case.
The things we carry. So much baggage.
And don’t get me started on luggage. I’ve never met a Tumi I didn’t love. There’s the day tripper, a weekender, a voyager, the sojourner, the wanderlust bag, not to mention the packing cubes and clever bag-in-the-bag organizers.
Bag lady that I am, I’ve now spread the bag bug to my husband! Like codependents we have encouraged our bag habits. And now at last, in his inimitable competitive style, my dear husband (the love of my life?) has found The One. A bag I would never imagine we’d need. The Bag to End All Bags. A bag worthy of a Dr. Seuss book, if only Theodore, himself, were with us still to write it.
Behold: the Biknd Helium Bicycle Travel Case
A bag for a bike! You know: the thing most people ordinarily ride on two wheels?
Who’d imagine a bag so clever as to carry a bike?
The Helium. Only 24 pounds. Big enough for a human stowaway, albeit somewhat dismembered. Tough ballistics nylon on the outside, comfy, cozy pockets and sleeves on the inside. And no, it’s not filled with helium. The case comes with inflatable pneumatic padding. And its own pump. Just 70 poofs per side and it's ready to fly.
Utilitarian Biknd design that it is, the Helium offers storage for not only for two, but four wheels. (“Go ahead,” the copy invites, "Take your aero wheels and your lightweight wheels for the days when you'll be high in the mountains.) How high in the mountains?
Oh, the places we'll go with this. Bags packed. Jingle bells. . . all the way.
Photos: Bagged, borrowed and stolen off the Web
(Thanks, SuperStock, Tumi, Chloe, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Saks, Reed Krakoff, Coach and Target. )