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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Extreme Designer Handbags

The Art of the Handbag by Clare Anthony
The Art of the Handbag by Clare Anthony...
Some time ago, I took out a book from the library called "The Art of the Handbag" by Clare Anthony. It covers a brief history of what we call the handbag and then goes into many chapters featuring designer versions of handbags that one might consider as better in the form than function department.

Some are interesting, but others border on the ridiculous. (And just when I thought that bag designs were getting mundane and unoriginal... but that's a topic for another time.)

It inspired me to Google further work from the designers in the book to see what other outlandish creations they've made.

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I'll begin with a name everyone will know. Apparently this Chanel hoola hoop bag (which is actually featured in the book) was widely seen when it came out in the fall of 2012, but it hadn't ever passed my eyes until now. As I've said before, I'm not much of a fashionista!

Chanel's prototype hoola hoop bag...
Mr. Karl Lagerfeld himself described the bag as meant for the beach, hence its ridiculous size. (And here you and I thought that big tote bags were good enough for the beach!)

Oddly enough, when production rolled out on the design, it was in the form of a "mini" version that was probably only about a 10" circle at the most. (Pricing wasn't similarly mini as you might guess; it retailed for $2,400.) I thought it ironic that from such a huge idea came a tiny little bag that was probably quite restrictive in terms of how much it was able to carry.

Shoebag by Azumi & David
Heel Kelly Bag in Orange by Azumi & David...
Do you like shoes? (I do.) It's often said that women can't have enough shoes or bags, so husband and wife designers Azumi & David must have thought it appropriate to combine the two. They have been making these shoe bags since 2001, featuring shoe styles of all types.

This one shown here (retailing for £250) is more bag than shoe compared to one from the book (which closes with a metal purse frame and looks just like a bootie with a handle on it).

I'm not sold on the concept, but I do see an upside... you can set this purse down on the ground because, hey — the bottom's just a shoe!

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How about "purse as weapon"? Alexander McQueen specializes in knucklebox clutch designs that could be deemed illegal in many places. This one is actually a more delicate looking version than the one from the book. (And if you like it, it's available for only $3,895.)

image courtesy of AlexanderMcQueen.com...

Debra Gavant's thing is "handbag as sculpture" and I must say that as bags or as sculptures, personally, most of her creations escape me (interpretation and appreciation of art being in the eye of the beholder, of course).

Image courtesy of DebraGavant.com
Debra Gavant's "chicken" bag...

As you might imagine, this interpretation of a prepped chicken is one of her more outlandish creations. (And I have no idea of what it would cost to own this chicken...)

Bea Valdes bag
image courtesy of luxussilk.wordpress.com...
At the other end of the style scale, Bea Valdes specializes in works of art with ornate stones and beading. (I can imagine every bag of hers being heavy to carry!)

This bag here is called the Maharlika Evening Bag with peacock feathers. Wasn't able to track down the cost for this piece, but I've seen pricing for her other pieces up to $2,000.

Along with other wristlets and uniquely shaped clutches, she also creates stupendous looking statement necklaces using the same beading techniques.

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Jerome Olivet bag
image courtesyy of thisbag.net...
Jerome Olivet is a minimalist French designer with a knack for making things with odd shapes that look slightly "otherworldly".

He works with both PVC and leather; this particular bag (also featured in the book) is called an 09 Pod and is made out of calf leather, retailing for $259.

There is a sense of the importance of ergonomics in his designs. Most of his bags are created to hug the body and therefore end up with rounded and contoured edges.

Apart from interestingly shaped bags (and there is indeed something named Love Bag that I will leave to you to hunt down and appreciate its — ahem — interesting shape), he also creates accessories for the home.

James Piatt "The Founding"
image courtesy of jamespiatt.com...
Ultra mod not your style? How about alarmingly edgy? James Piatt has made some pretty "out there" creations in my humble opinion. Check out this one called Foundling, a satirical take on celebrity parenting.

Made out of copper, it's a crying baby obviously, but apparently it also includes a selection of charms meant as a nod to some noteworthy (?) celebrity parents. (Details are on his website if you're interested.) Price for this one? $989. Also available in leather for $789.

Two of his other more outrageous designs include a hanging dead cat and a rifle. Yep.

dice bag by moschino
image courtesy of moschino.com...
Lastly, the house of Franco Moschino actually has some pretty traditional designs in terms of bags, but I chose this one to illustrate the outer limits of his/their imagination.

Yes, that's a set of faux fur fuzzy dice. (And way too big to hang from your rearview mirror.) You can have it for $1,285. It would be a conversation piece, right??

Apart from interesting bags, Moschino also puts out a whole line of clothing, shoes and other accessories for men and women.

So what do you think? Did you enjoy this walk on the wild side of handbags?

If you found the topic interesting, I recommend you check out the book... it was available as an electronic download at my library, so you may not need to extend a whole lot of effort to take a look. ;-)


  1. With the exception of the leather bag, they're all outrageous... LOL!!! Fun to look at, maybe, but perhaps not to carry around. Not too sure how anyone can spend $1000 on one bag, but that's just me. A fun post, Rochelle!

  2. Oh that chicken one is just awvul!!! And of you think those prices are high, try a Birkin bag!!!


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