FA2L is for anyone who cares about beautiful things–clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings–and the interconnected tribes of those who make, sell, market and desire them. If something speaks to you, buy it now or hold your peace: there are links in each story, so the item you want is just a click away. I'd like to hear from you, too: please view my profile, use the email button and send me your comments.MG

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Bag As Artifact & Symbol of Grace Under Fire

Ah, the secret world of women's purses, handbags, satchels and the like. I often ask female friends to detail the contents of their bags, and most of them know to the last mint what's socked away in each corner: BlackBerry, makeup kit, wallet, newspaper, magazines (important pages dog-eared or flagged with color-coded tabs), sunglasses, water bottle, flip-flops (or sneakers, in winter), hand sanitizer, SHOUT stain removing wipes, assorted pens, Motrin, and enough sundries to stock a small pharmacy. And that's just for starters–most professions (including motherhood) add to the checklist. An odd, and seemingly contradictory corollary, states that no matter what size a bag may be, it will be filled to capacity. The anthropologist in me can't help but suspect this all goes back to our days as hunters and gatherers.

There is no single, perfect bag, of course, but certain things are key.
Handbags are fun for special lunches and afternoon events, and they're killer status items, but as functioning elements in the average woman's wardrobe, they hardly register. Totes seem practical, but they're often very heavy when full (see corollary above), and most won't slip over a shoulder (even Diana, goddess of the hunt, carried a shoulder bag of sorts–a quiver). The best day-to-day bags have adjustable straps so their fit can be personalized; they're neither too small nor too big; and they're tough enough to bear constant stress while looking chic and breezy. Rather like society expects of women themselves.

Gucci's new Icon Bit bag strikes me as a contender. It's of medium size, with smart pleats that expand or contract (and mold around a woman's side when squashed under her arm); it has a practically-perfect shoulder strap with beautiful hardware; and it purrs luxury instead of screaming "look at me." This purple suede is especially pretty; but there are also black or cream calfskin versions and a very glamorous model in shiny black python. The popular press has eulogized the passing of the "status bag," but what comes next? We say, "The Status Bag is dead. Long live the (new) Status Bag."