RIP to the micro-mini bag, Mugler, Kiko Kostadinov, and Gucci’s crooked variations would have hated you
Please send thoughts and prayers to the fashion designers who have run out of shapes. At this point, squares, rectangles, cubes, and oblongs seem to have been exhausted to such a degree that brands are now creating handbags from evermore amorphous silhouettes. Bags like the Kiko Kostadinov Trivia and the Mugler Spiral and the Luis de Javier The Bitch and the Coperni Swipe. Bags that look as though they’ve been frozen in motion. Bags that would otherwise be considered basic were it not for all the skew-whiff contours, hollowed-out bellies, and cavorting zippers. This season, the presiding mood is strange and graphic and futuristic: like the Dior Saddle bag had been put through a distorted circus mirror or crushed under the weight of one of those hydraulic pumps that do numbers on TikTok.
All of that reached an apotheosis last night when Gucci unveiled a lopsided version of its 1995 Satchel. Perhaps the design team – left for another season without a creative director – had forgotten the ABC of shapes. Or perhaps a fascination with things looking ‘off’ somehow speaks to the collective consciousness. Fashion, after all, is the most reactive of the visual arts and will often anticipate aesthetic obsessions long before plebs (like you) catch on. Like, have handbags gone lopsided because we live in unstable times? Are the tectonic plates secretly shifting and sending a distress signal through Gucci’s 2024 Cruise collection? Probably not! But even the most fleeting and frivolous trends can tell us more about ourselves than we’d care to admit... like a crystal ball melted into an Isamu Noguchi sculpture.
This is true even if crooked handbags are just an attempt to distance ourselves from an era of micro-minis. Those bags were fun and unusual when Jacquemus debuted his minuscule Le Chiquito in 2019 but an oversaturation of ‘my patience’ memes and PLT knock-offs led to their inevitable mainstreaming. And true aesthetes baulk at the mainstream. They want their fashion choices to say ‘Can I shock you? This bag is not shaped normal! You will be surprised when you see it!’. If Le Chiquito glutted the handbag of its functional purpose – failing to accommodate more than a couple of credit cards – its ergonomic successors are seen more as design objects than anything practical. They would confuse a whitebread fashion fan and that is the point. Is it a frisbee? Is it a hunk of celestial rock? It is a handbag!
Perhaps the twisted bag is also a retaliation against the proliferation of Uniqlo and COS bags that went viral first on TikTok and then on the street. The former is more like a hobbit’s sack than a handbag and the latter is a plain crossbody which has been dubbed “the Mary Poppins carryall” – a phrase which is unlikely to inspire much intrigue in the kind of people who watched Arca slut drop at the latest Mugler show. If COS drinks orange wine and Uniqlo drinks bubble tea, then the warped bag drinks ethanol-dry Martinis. Its corners are pointed like the tips of a Togo sofa, lines curved like a Giotto Stoppino lamp. It is the difference between running errands in a local Westfield and zooming past the line at some kind of Parisian hotspot. And it runs in opposition to Telfar’s democratic mantra: meaning it is not for everyone, it is for you – the only person in the world.