Fresh style insights, tips and commentary by Michelle Tea, Michael Braithwaite, Leo Plass, Page McBee and Carrie Leilam Love.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bag Hag

Louis Vuitton mens handbag

Hey! You know what's supposed to be really popular this Fall? Envelope bags. You know what I have no use for? Envelope bags. I don't take issue with envelope bags, I just never find myself in a scenario thinking "I wish I had a drastically smaller bag." Most of the time my bag is like a second house. I pack extra layers, an evening scarf (different from my daytime scarf), books (yes, I still read the paper ones--my life has more than enough technology in it), and any number of odd item I decide to bring along for god knows what reason. If I shop, there needs to be enough room for my purchases (unless the purchase is shoes) since I try not to accumulate extra disposable bags. This all calls for a bag that has a PRESENCE.

Additionally, this Fall I'm leaning more towards the dystopian fisherman look. Moody landscape photography a la Todd Hido and avant cello music by Zoe Keating helps. I think I also might be borderline inspired by my fat cat, who always looks like she's on the ready to return to the wilds of some Norwegian forest. I should be on the ready for that, too. As such, I'm on constant lookout for cozy cable sweaters I can curl up in, oversize coats with dramatic collars, and chunky boots (mission accomplished this weekend, with these Miz Mooz Lennox Boots). There's a lot of leather happening. And that's just fine because there's a lot of leather happening in handbags this Fall, so it makes perusing an easy affair.

Celine, as per Phoebe Philo's usual genius, has some great bags for Fall/Winter 2010/2011 that can handle my life and its daily accouterments. Clean lines, an interesting combination of materials, and perfect color combinations.

Celine Black Duffel 

Celine Tote

Something about Louis Vuitton's womens collections is always off-putting to me. Maybe it's that I once knew someone I suspect was a pathological liar who claimed to have received an entire set of L.V. luggage for her 16th birthday that she was unimpressed with and so she had her father return it but for a small hand bag that she always carried around. She would eventually offer to fly she and I to Italy in a helicopter for a different birthday (because helicopters can TOTALLY make it across the ocean). As much as I can appreciate that sort of fantasy absurdist sentiment, it left a foul taste in my mouth that extends to my feelings about Louis Vuitton bags. Don't offer me a helicopter ride you can't deliver.

Luckily, Louis Vuitton makes amazing mens handbags, because we're finally in a century where men admit that they, too, need handbags. Louis Vuitton's Fall/Winter collection for 2010/2011 was inspired by Vienna's artist community in the first half of the 20th Century. Drawing from the ways in which the likes of Franz Kafka and Egon Schiele blended bohemian leisure style with business fashion, the line is called "Bleisure," which frankly doesn't sit well on the tongue, but it does rest easy on the eyes.

The bag at the top of this post is what heaven looks like. I'm sure the leather feels like the butteriest of buttery leather and that it would patina with an unrivaled perfection. The material and color combination on the vertically-oriented bags below come in a close second. I will have my life of...blei...sure. Yes, BLEISURE!

Louis Vuitton, Shako Cabas Bandoliere

So obviously Europe has the corner market on well-known, well-made handbags, but what about America? Occasionally I try to only purchase things made in the USA or, even MORE difficult, locally. I do what I can to stave off the inevitable robot wars with China in the coming decades. FYI, China will 100% win a robot war, because we don't even make those here anymore.

Hands down, my favorite American bag designer/maker is Billy Kirk. I featured one of their all leather shoulder pouches in an earlier post, but for the Fall, check out their travel bags. Buckles, oiled leather, sturdy fabric. So fun! And made in the pastoral landscape of  Pennsylvania.

No. 166 Large Carryall

No. 165 Medium Carryall

No. 164 Steamer Bag

Glaser Designs, in San Francisco, handles everything from design to production in their SOMA studio. How pleasantly 19th Century! I'm not a fan of their handbags, but I want to live inside this satchel and the duffel below.

Glaser Designs, Day Bag

Glaser Designs, Duffel Bag

Finally, there is always The Hitchin' Post, owned by Ellen and Bob Chandler, purveyors of handmade deerskin leather products since 1995. Ellen and Bob are your answer to the challenge, "if you're going to wear animal products, you should be able to kill it yourself." I mean, yeah, but then what? I don't know how to fashion hides. You can bring them your own tanned hides and they'll turn them into a bag. True story. Now just learn how to tan a hide.

You can also just purchase previously tanned hides fashioned into bags. Despite the sickly lighting in this image, I would totally take this barrel bag in chocolate or possibly palomino with a chocolate strap. They also make some really freaky capes that I don't ever want to see again.

Barrel Bag

To any and all vegan/vegetarian readers out there, yes, I know this was animal product central. I used to have a collection of canvas bags. Loyalty and Blood was my favorite--they make bags with different letters on them. I had a flowery letter L. I could have gotten M, since that's what my name starts with, but L was so much prettier. I used to wear it around with my House of Holland shirt that reads "Do Me Daily Christopher Baily." I was a walking font attack. At any rate, that bag only lasted a short period of time, as all canvas bags do. The neon trend faded somewhat, too, so now I wear my House of Holland shirt and my old American Apparel leggings as jam jams. There's something superbly American about turning things like that into pajamas. 

Point being, any leather boots and bags I have, I've had for 5-10 years. They age, they get better, they change their personalities according to their patinas, it's an ever-evolving relationship. They're not in the city dump with all the Tom's shoes and canvas totes in varying states of ruin. After the robot wars we'll only have clothes made of animal hides anyway.


  1. Hello, No. 166 Large Carryall!!