But what goes up must come down. As we said goodbye to Twee, who made cute bags the perfect companion to peplum tops and A-line dresses, a shift occurred that saw fashion lean into minimal and subtly ‘chic’ accessories. Suddenly fancy bags were replaced by plain color hobos and clutches with no logo. We went from quirky, unique handbags to everyone carrying the same medium-sized shoulder bag with a metal flap and logo. No shade, we to like an easy everyday bag, but there’s something liberating about carrying a pineapple-shaped bucket bag to work every morning.
Lately, however, designers have redefined the concept of chic. Elsa Schiaparelli’s surreal creations were never anything, but now we have Daniel Roseberry bringing that energy back into our world. Surrealism emerged in the aftermath of World War I as an artistic and humanistic response to a conflict-ridden society, a literal rejection of reality and its obstacles, so it is not altogether surprising that society of today and its artists revisit this same spirit. But I would argue that the rise of wacky novelty bags like JW Anderson’s pigeon clutch or Roseberry’s six-pack tote has more to do with the joy of doing funny things just because they are that, fun. The purse equivalent to a meme.
Indeed, this wave of wacky handbags hitting the catwalks has a lot to do with memes and internet culture in general. Take the Balenciaga trash bag that divides Demna… the bag. It has a lot to do with his own experience as a refugee, but it’s also a great example of millennial discourse. In an interview shortly after the presentation of the collection, the designer mentioned that he couldn’t miss the opportunity to make the most expensive trash bag in the world, “because who doesn’t love a fashion scandal? ” work, it seems like Demna is simultaneously delivering a personal commentary on the state of our conflicted world and cheekily teasing the culture – just like the smartest memes do.
Earlier this year at the Grammys, Doja Cat, arguably one of Gen Z’s most memorable celebrities, wore a tiny, mouth-blown glass powder blue bag on the red carpet. Made by Coperni in collaboration with glass artists Home in Heven, it’s meant to replicate their popular Swipe Bag, which is inspired by the “swipe to unlock” icon on an iPhone. The bag immediately went viral. Similarly, JW Anderson’s Pigeon Clutch is now famous on TikTok thanks to a viral video of a user considering buying it and then finally buying it.