Surreal handbags are fashion’s new futuristic fascination


Coperni Fall Winter 2022, Ready to Wear. Photograph courtesy of Imaxtree

Designers use unconventional materials to create surreal clutches.

Weird fashion has a moment. Take Schiaparelli’s gilded sci-fi Spring/Summer collection or Emma Corrin’s latest red carpet moment in a balloon bra imitating nipples only two recent examples. Clearly, designers have a new penchant for futuristic follies, and surreal handbags are fashion’s latest frontier.

If you need proof, just look at the stars, who choose to wear clutches made of unusual materials. Exhibit A: Doja Cat, Kylie Jenner and Tinashe have all been seen with the Paris label Coperni‘s bag made entirely of mouth-blown glass.

On the red carpet, Paris Hilton and Julia Fox accessorized unconventional handbags. Hilton wore a Swarovski Crystal Martini Coin Purse at the 2022 Grammys, while Fox teamed her avant-garde Oscars ensemble with a sleeve of human hair.

Seeing celebrities in such impractical designs and materials has given fashion lovers plenty of food on social media. And, in turn, ushered in a new appreciation for sculptural props – of which there are plenty.

Designer Clio Peppiatt recently presented a collection of wholesale crystal bags; fluorescent cream-colored beads are the inspiration behind handbags from brands like London’s Simone Rocha and based in Los Angeles Gaia Cult.

But it’s not all playful tailoring, as some designers draw inspiration from more gothic sources. Take Julia Fox’s scoop neck Oscars dress, created by the labels Han Kjøbenhavn and Naomi Gilon. The latter have a knack for including nightmarish, outstretched hands in their coveted ceramic bags. Designer Saurieng Hatlep takes an equally odd approach. Their spiciness Punching Bag Knuckles features sharp blades that fire from almost any angle.

This use of unorthodox materials has other benefits, such as durability and circularity. Clio Peppiatt’s collection, for example, uses recycled acrylic beads to create the look of hardened sugar. When Julia Fox wore her aforementioned hair-covered handbag, French hairstylist Charlie Le Mindu, who designed the piece, wrote on Instagram, “This is how I recycle human hair.” That’s what I call innovative!

Although the virality of the Coperni glass bag led to a new fascination with futuristic accessories, surreal handbags themselves have been around for years. Berlin brand Ottolinger makes ceramic and melted plastic bags for some time. But the trend’s growth speaks to fashion’s appetite for individualism and fashion-forward clothing.

Are surreal handbags the future of design? Being able to reuse everyday materials makes it a strong candidate. Plus, who wouldn’t want a prop that leaves everyone around you wondering if it’s a weapon, a dessert, or a piece of art?

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