No more It Bags in 2008, or declared trendy pieces in the New York Times and the wall street journal. In the face of the greatest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, the very notion of those symbols of turn-of-the-century conspicuous consumption – the Fendi Baguettes, Chloe Paddingtons, Dior Saddles and many others that cost $1,000 or more, a surprising amount at the time – suddenly seemed vulgar. There have been reports of the super-rich camouflaging their Birkins in drugstore shopping bags.
It’s funny how quaint it all seems today, when prices for some of the season’s most coveted bags now approach five figures, and the resale market for bygone icons like the Takashi Murakami collaborative series of Louis Vuitton has become an industry in its own right. But times have changed, and what appears to be a resurgence of particularly bigger and bolder accessories (and not just bags) on the brand catwalks makes for a more nuanced approach to design for an audience that has come to appreciate over-reporting as an investment opportunity.
“The more fantastic the accessory, the better it is right now,” says Paul Andrew, the former creative director of Ferragamo, which has relaunched its signature shoe collection for fall. While Andrew was once considered a contender for the Manolo throne for his chic and feminine style, his new collection is decidedly flashier, with shimmering plexiglass wedge heels and Swarovski crystal heels, inspired by what he considers like a return to the era of the 90s. the eroticism of Tom Ford at Gucci. “People have this pent up desire to get dressed after years at home,” says Andrew. “There’s also this Instagram culture, where everything is more sexual,” not to mention shows like Elite and Euphoria “who are very forward-thinking in how young people present themselves and their bodies.”
Interestingly, after years of seeing accessories shrink to comical proportions, like the Jacquemus Le Chiquiti dollhouse, the fall collections brought out centerpieces that only seemed to become more exaggerated in their theatricality, from the silver Bow Sandal from Jonathan Anderson at Loewe (described by the house as “chaotic volume”) to the latest version of Nicolas Ghesquière’s Vuitton monogram: bags with shiny surfaces that are magnified by the look. There are many theories as to why, none as obvious as the desire to get out of the misery of the pandemic. Han Chong, the founder and creative director of the London-based Self-Portrait collection, says he was chatting with friends about his relatively less stressful 90s nostalgia when he came up with the idea for the Bow Bag, a pert- and — a perky handbag that’s been a hit on social media since Naomi Campbell introduced it in June with a campaign that spoofed Brandy and Monica’s 1998 hit “The Boy Is Mine.”
“It was a time when everything was inspired by music videos and people had a lot of fun,” Chong says. “It’s this very simple idea, but with maximum impact.” Daniel Roseberry, artistic director of Schiaparelli, also sees a connection to the 90s in the way musicians and artists influence fashion and pop culture today. “It’s similar in that a bit of vulgarity feels on point, as long as it’s done with a sense of humor and a lot of charm,” he says.
In the past, It Designs seemed so calculated that “it was like pitching a candidate,” says Cameron Silver, the multifaceted vintage retailer and designer. “It’s like, ‘How many test groups did this bag go through?’ “But seeing the prices of these items continue to skyrocket has trained consumers to shop around for their potential value, which in turn is helping to spur their resurgence,” he says. that the Credit Suisse Research Institute recently ranked Chanel handbags among the best collectibles for inflation protection, along with traditional Chinese artwork and luxury wristwatches. investment shopping,” Silver says. “My friend’s daughter really wants a particular Gucci bag for her 18th birthday. She’s paying attention to the secondary market for that $3,200 bag. There’s a lot more confidence in handbags and shoes too.
Luxury brands are also more susceptible to the downsides of oversupply and, in some cases, produce their hottest designs in limited quantities – “Insider It Bags”, as Silver calls them. Coperni’s glass version of its Swipe bag (a diamond shape that resembles the “press to unlock” function on a cellphone), produced by Brooklyn-based glassblower Heven, is an extreme example of an item of fashion which borders on the art of clothing. But even high-profile pieces on social media, like Schiaparelli’s pricey Anatomy bags, with faces rendered in jewels, are very hard to find in stores, further enhancing their desirability.
“It’s more important to consumers today than it was in the 1990s,” says Morgane Halimi, head of handbags and accessories at Sotheby’s. “You want to invest in two things: coins that last and coins that can hold value.” Her choice today would be the Chanel’s Heart bag, another 90s throwback revived by designer Virginie Viard in the Spring 2022 collection. “It’s extremely desirable and its heart shape makes it a fun accessory, playing with the quilted pattern Chanel classic,” says Halimi. Jodi Kahn, vice president of luxury fashion at Neiman Marcus, says customers are opting for bolder accessories from Versace and Balenciaga, noting that, just like in the early 2000s, “logos are back and in high demand. “, although they are less splashy today. “Nowadays, the recognizability of the trendiest bags is determined by multiple factors: the quality of the materials, the colors, the shapes, the monogram and the logo,” explains Kahn. Stars on her wish list include the Cassandra shoulder bag from Saint Laurent and the One Stud Satchel from Valentino.
And Tiffany Hsu, director of fashion buying at Mytheresa, notes that the rise in travel, galas and weddings has also sparked interest in statement accessories that can be incorporated into an everyday wardrobe. “For example, bags like the Balenciaga Le Cagole come in many different versions that can be worn day or night,” she says. “A recent favourite, the Prada Cleo, comes in a fully dazzling option that can be paired with jeans and a white shirt for an everyday outfit that always looks stunning.”
That sentiment certainly resonates with designers like Roseberry. “Because of social media, I think it’s getting harder and harder to find everyday situations that don’t deserves something extraordinary – a crazy bag or a surreal shoe or really oversized jewelry,” he says. “A lot of the releases feel performative now, so I think the louder the better.”
Main image credit: Sandal, Loewe, $950, select Loewe stores nationwide. Props designer: Gözde Eker.
This article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of ELLE.
Eric Wilson is a veteran fashion journalist currently based in Hong Kong, where he is Editorial Director of Tatler Asia Group. He was previously a journalist at The New York Times and WWDand director of fashion news at In the style At New York.