HOW AREA’S NYFW SHOW HAS ME MUSING ON THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF FUNCTIONLESS HANDBAGS

There are new ideas infiltrating the fashion world as designers and fashionistas alike begin to challenge the concept of the utilitarian handbag. Off-White recently emphasized that bags themselves are actually a form of art by printing “SCULPTURE” on them. Jacquemus saturated our Instagram feeds with bags so microscopic and impractical that we couldn’t help but become enthralled by the quirky satire they oozed. Most recently (and IMO most notably) Area dazzled us with a bag that wasn’t even a bag at all during NYFW. This bag left me with lots of questions and lots of theories to which I will mull over in this post.

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AREA FALL WINTER 20 – Look 15 #areanyc

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The chair bag from Area really piqued my interest because it held many of the qualities you would expect from an evening crossbody. It was carried across the torso via a strap support and was quite glitzy, but in place of a well-designed pouch was a small, crystal-embellished sculpture of a metal folding chair – the type of cold, hard object that you might have sat on during an 8th-grade assembly (sans crystals of course).

While at first this notion amused me, I began to think more about the deeper implications a glittery chair-bag and/or useless bags in general could signify. Some of the theories I created are as follows:

Perhaps dysfunctional bags signify nothing more than our society’s obsession with novelty.

Maybe it’s a note on the fact that, in the age of online personalities and information overload, nothing is ever what it really seems.

For all I know it could even be an aide in the ongoing battle for bigger pockets in women’s pants.

Lastly, it could just be that the designer wanted a glittery mini-chair in her show, because fuck it. Maybe there really is not much too it and I am just, yet again, thinking too hard about it.

Alas, as in art, the beauty and meaning is in the eye of the beholder so there is really no right or wrong answer. However, with designers coming out with bag concepts that are increasingly abstract, one has to wonder if the next big trend in bags will be a statement piece that’s intentionally not a bag. I am eager to see if my trend prediction holds true as fashion month ensues.

In the meantime the more pressing question is: if I were to adopt this trend (which is very likely) where would I put my keys and wallet?

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