The New Bags

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by Leandra Medine
August 7, 2013
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A closer look at the most recent work from Alexander Wang, Hedi Slimane and Raf Simons

I have found it incredibly difficult to discuss Alexander Wang, or Hedi Slimane or Raf Simons without at least marginally comparing one to the others. That might be because they’re the most recent designers to engage in a game of musical fashion house chairs. Or maybe it’s because of the stringent industry timelines – the fact that when one designer produces something new, a hotbed of additional ones are doing the exact same thing. Maybe it’s both, but either way what’s on the seasoned tongue right now is a conversation about new-age handbags starring Alexander Wang, a little bit of Hedi Slimane and I’ll throw in Simons for good measure.

Slimane revealed his first bag for the house of Saint Laurent in April and Simons has been producing his version of what the Dior it-bag should look like since he took command in 2012. Alexander Wang only recently revealed his bevy of new Balenciaga bags and so the time lag is slightly off, yes. But far more interesting than a detail as inconsequential as a matter of months are the uniquely consistent characteristics evident when considering the respective work across one succinct plane.

We can start with a look at Dior. The above photographed details are from the Fall/Winter 2013 collection show (slides 1-4) and while the leading clutch holsters a Warholian, sketched shoe on its front, the additional two black, structured top handle totes and that one beige version that follows the same silhouette maintain a more nondescript salute to old house tradition. Even in the case of the one with the classic letters, “D” “i” “O” “r”, they appear in a concealed black lacquer as opposed to a more regal and perceptible gold.

Forward on, three styles from Hedi Slimane’s fall handbag collection for Saint Laurent vary incredibly when held up against their predecessors in their structure, the tiny, almost-illegible scriptures and the audible absence of a large, overlapping YSL.

Per the most recent work at Balenciaga, while the gilded bolts complimenting nearly every seam on the ubiquitous Balenciaga ‘Arena’ bag have become a symbol emblematic of the brand, a far more unassuming, structured carry-some (not to be confused with the carry-all) now eschews that sense of here-is-my-designer-handbag. 

The common denominator? A nod to anonymity.

Sure, as soon as these handbags become as popular as, say, the Proenza Schouler PS 1 has, or the Celine luggage or conversely trapeze totes have, the sense of inconspicuousness tying them together will probably get lost on us but that’s not so much their fault as it is ours. What’s really important to note here is that we are knee deep in an era that is promoting the luxury of namelessness without actually compromising the name. All three of these houses, arguably best known for their clearly-marked-as expensive handbags are flipping their coins–and likely not for no reason. I am a firm believer that while yes, there is certainly a hint of manipulation vested in the consumerist industry, the consumer opinion really, really matters.

Maybe the obscurity is a cry for help that we are inadvertently inferring in one small, fashion-fostered effort to regain control over something much larger: that which we want to deem invisible (see: our personae?) vs. that which we don’t. Maybe, in fact – and I hate myself for saying this – “Anonymous” has had it right all along.

Slides #1-4, 10 via Vogue, #5,6,7 via Saint Laurent, #8,9 via, womp, Google.

REPLIES
  • CarolinaG

    Love your blog!!!

    I’m posting looks from Los Angeles and accessories:

    http://www.thegavlaks.com

  • http://www.fripperyvintage.com/ Frippery Vintage

    Love the new Dior bags especially as a lover of vintage. The sketches are so whimsical and fun.

  • Royal Wang
  • Bri

    Really liking the move toward a more understated designer bag. The Balenciaga’s look too much like a Fendi + Hermes baby though.

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    I quite like this new trend of bags, I find them very chic.

    Mafalda ❤
    http://www.mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr

  • http://www.fashionsnag.com/ Fashion Snag

    I love how simple the designs are, especially the saint laurent bags. Anonymity never looked so good.

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • Laura

    That Balenciaga bag sucks.

  • Nico

    This selection is breathtaking!

    NEW POST OUTFIT: http://lowbudget-lowcost.blogspot.it/2013/08/green-mint-pantsagain.html

  • monkeyshines
  • Naomi R Tallin

    Those Saint Laurent bags…. I think I need them in my life.

    http://thelostandfoundadventure.blogspot.ca

  • SydneyF

    absolutely love these bags but love even more the fact the Queen has been sporting this look for a loonnnggggg time now :)

  • Lisa Thomson

    These bags are wonderfully structured. They harken to the ‘Kelly’ bag. Classic! No Louis Vuitton?

  • Rathna Sharad

    Great post! Love understated…

  • Iliyana Licheva
  • Julia Percia David

    True! Minimalist vibes should also had some influence into anonymous new bags! The sober the better. Only experts actually know this plain bag was actually from a big brand…

    xoxo

    Julia from aboyeur.blogspot.com

    • Leandra Medine

      Until they become as ubiquitous as the previously “sober” bags, though!

  • Amatoria Clothing

    The Fashion Industry, like many things, is cyclical. For a few years, all people wanted was for high-end logos to be plastered all over their clothing and accessories. It has come to the point where that seems tacky.
    Good fashion should be coveted because of its innate beauty. It is time to let the pieces speak for themselves.

  • http://www.the-habit.com/ Theresa

    The Saint Laurent bags are incredible for sure. Probably some of my faves right now.

  • Akaleistar

    The luxury of namelessness is a very interesting idea. Will we progress to the point where everything does not have to be obnoxiously labeled?

  • Kim

    Seriously diggin’ the anonymity. I’ve always avoided any bag that was clearly labeled with a designer name or logo. I find that it often takes away from the actual design of the handbag (for me anyway). I like designer bags because, for the most part, they are well made with high quality materials. When it comes down to it, style and quality are what matter, not the brand name.

  • (BAD) Blog About Design

    Well these bags are just fabulous! The shoe bag is my favorite.

    Check out the BAD blog…http://design-bad.blogspot.com/

  • Queenbb

    Might sound like a silly question but what bag is in the last slide? Love it and must have it.

    • Leandra Medine

      Hey–that is one of Alexander Wang’s creations for Balenciaga

  • Perry

    The Balenciaga bags are a mixture of Valextra meets K-Mart and/or Target.

  • Em

    I feel that over the years there is a transition of what really and truly MAKES an outfit. Bags as you say were/are huge right now thanks to Céline and Proenza, but it seems now the focus has shifted. Question is where?

    Regardless, these bags are GORGEOUS and really bring out what’s the most important part of designer accessories– the fact that they are made with great care and with the finest products. My closet weeps for them!

    xoxo, Em
    http://www.stylebydirtywater.com

    • Leandra Medine

      Shoes!

      • Em

        Haha, you know I was about to say that [mostly because I can't stop thinking about the sickening boots coming up from Phillip Lim and Pucci], but wanted to see what you thought. Damn I’m good!

  • skirt sorbet

    I´m obsessed with bags!
    Love your blog!

    http://www.skirtsorbet.com

  • JLMCGO

    I love this!
    Everyone should check out http://wishi.me/r/JM to make your own online closet! You and your friends can style each other for free on this great new site!

  • Alejandra dlg

    Leandra, have you seen Malletier bags? http://www.m2malletier.com I feel like you would love them

    • Leandra Medine

      Yes! They are so awesome. Thank you for passing along

  • http://WWW.ELITECOUTURE.CO.UK/ ELITE COUTURE

    Some very nice bags indeed. Love Dior http://www.elitecouture.co.uk

  • The Trendstop Team

    Great selection of gorgeously classic designs! The YSL bags are our personal faves.

    The Trendstop Team
    http://www.trendstop.com

  • Eva Falco
  • Luciana Safdie

    I love this post. I see this “anonymity” as a way to close the fashion scene, only those who know about, or care for, fashion will recognise the bags, to anyone else, they’ll just be another great quality handbag. So in a way I see these types of design as both a “buy me because I’m pretty, and not because of my brand”, and also as a nod to those who read and care about fashion (only someone who knows the latest collections will compliment your bag accordingly).

    Personally, I love it.