Communicative handbags

You don’t have to introduce yourself to people anymore. Your handbag speaks on behalf of you.

Ever since women discover the semiotic power of them, handbags become the ultimate status marker. A chic handbag has the ability to communicate. Just go to Sloane Square and watch women. If you look at their handbags carefully, you will see them murmuring. Especially in recent years they even start to chat with each other. Do you want to learn what they are talking about? Then, read the rest of the story.
Prada started the It Bag phenomenon with its nylon bag in 1993. The triangular Prada logo became one of the status providers of the 1990s. However, it didn’t rule the fashion scene alone. In 1997, women met another It Bag with the Baguette bag. I suppose Silvia Venturini Fendi give the name of a French bread to this bag as she foresaw the future of it. It was sold just like hot and tasty baguettes in a patisserie. Women wanted to carry these yummy Baguettes that were made in a variety of materials from white minks to woven raffia. Sophia Loren compared her desire for collecting them to a drug addiction.
Women’s love affair with handbags has never been so intense. They became obsessed with having the It Bag of the season. Even Miss Piggy became a handbag addict and said: “I find it is vital to have at least one handbag for each of the ten types of social occasion: Very formal, not so formal, just a teensy bit formal, everyday, every other day, day travel, night travel, theatre, and fling.”
Actually, the “It Bag mania” that started with the 1990s owes much to the iconic handbags that were created long before. Chanel 2.55 named for its birthday in February 1955, has been one of the most coveted number since its birthday. Its handmade chain is gold and costs more to make than the rest of the bag. The double C logo stands out like a coat of arms providing instant status to its holder. The Hermés Kelly and Birkin bags are also considered to be the mother of all It Bags. When Grace Kelly was trying to shield her first pregnancy from cameras in 1957, she held her Hermes bag tightly. This moment was engraved in our minds so vividly that there has been a constant waiting list for the Kelly bag ever since that time. Another cult bag was born in 1984 and named the Birkin bag. Originally designed for the bohemian actress Jane Birkin, the bag is back ordered up to two years.
In recent years there has been a kind of war between the must-have bags. High fashion brands compete with each other to create the most coveted item. This season women try to hold Mulberry’s Roxanne, Balenciaga’s Motorcycle bag, Chloé’s Paddington, Fendi’s Spy bag, Louis Vuitton’s Manhattan and Alexander McQueen’s Novak.
So are handbags becoming the conqueror of the fashion world and dethroning designer outfits? Thanks to high street fashion, designer clothes are copied as soon as they are displayed on the runway. Not surprisingly, women prefer buying the lookalike of designer outfits. When they combine the copied item with the must-have bag of the season, they make their statement. Basically, handbags are the easiest way to make a statement. “In Chloé, the bags outsell the ready-to-wear. The Paddington bag is totally sold out in all Chloé boutiques and Selfridges. People come and say ‘I’ve seen Sienna Miller and Kate Moss wearing it. I don’t know what it is called but I want that bag.’ They don’t even know the name of the bag or how it looks like,” says Laura Liverpool, Chloé brand specialist in Selfridges. “Waiting lists make women feel special. They like waiting for the next big bag,”
Women are still buying designer clothes, but if they have to make a choice between a designer outfit and a designer handbag, they will definitely invest in the latter. “Women can still wear the same clothes they have from last season. If they have the new looking bag of the season, they look very much in touch with fashion. They think the bag is a better investment as it lasts longer,” says Clara Mullens, women’s designer department manager at Selfridges.
Undoubtedly, the handbag speaks louder than the outfit. So, for a woman, carrying an It Bag is like carrying her status in her hand. It seems like we will continue to meet new status bags as high fashion brands produce new must-haves every season. They know one thing for sure: The longer the waiting list, the more coveted the handbag will become.

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