In these troubled economic times we might become less inclined to be frivolous with our accessory spending. How do you justify buying a bag that you can't even put stuff in?
As I cooed over the collections of wonderful clothes exhibited at Hyères last week, I noticed this handsome fella and his even more delectable backpack, designed by Jasmina Barshovi from Switzerland. What a beautiful little thing it was, discreetly hanging behind him as if just along for the ride. Empty of course, but who on earth cares? No doubt putting anything bigger than your keys in it would destroy its happy existence. And it felt so impulsively like a thing that existed purely for decoration, not utility that I had a mini-epiphany.
All this time, I've been close-minded in the bag department - why can't my bag exist purely because it's nice to look at? Admittedly the ugly laptop case I lug around is filled to capacity and I'm not about to try and carry something on the other arm in a desperate bid for sartorial quirkiness, but on those days when I'm wandering around town why not tote something beautiful just because it makes me feel a little bit happier?
A penchant for hats is as far as I usually go in the unnecessary accessory department. I can revel in the beauty of a scrunched up piece of clear plastic and happily pin it to my head. But hats are hats. A bag, on the other hand, has a function. But summer's here, a time for enjoying the sunshine and after this miniature awakening I've had, such a purchase no longer seems frivolous when I imagine how it could make a well-worn outfit appear fresh and new.
I've been deliberating for months over an absolutely gorgeous little clutch from Digest Design Workshop, which is stocked at Triple Major down Baochao Hutong. Made of water and tear resistant paper called Tyvek, this little clutch (with detachable straps, but who could resist holding the thing in their hands?) is an origami crane. Slightly crumpled, oh so pretty, it would trump anything I could wear it with, as it should. When I first picked it up, I evaluated its practical possibilities. "Could definitely get my purse and phone in there," I thought. Now however, I'd give both to the mister to carry and leave the thing empty.
Minaudière is our word du jour. A minaudière is traditionally a small item for formal occasions, which exists as decoration first and a receptacle second. The following finds may not fit the bill if we're being strict but they are nonetheless, lovely little things to carry.
An audible gasp escaped me when I saw this wooden clutch from French Connection. The smooth, curving wood makes it feel like a piece of furniture or an ornament and I imagined myself stroking it like a lucky charm or getting it out for a weekly polish along with the brass. Currently not stocked in Beijing shops, but you can get it on ASOS, where it's cheaper than French Connection's website.
Get in on the Hawaiian print trend (which is like, so hot right now) with H&M's hard case bag in turquoise for RMB199. It also comes in bright yellow.
French accessories designer Philippe Roucou is currently stocked at Fei Space. The Isadorabel isn't cheap at RMB4296 but it's definitely a statement piece with its gold-coloured steel tubes resembling coral fronds or some sinister underwater creature.
Brand new online boutique Stardust Vintage has just opened up for business, with the stylists behind Emma Watson's red carpet looks at the helm. Clothes and accessories are organised into four sections at present: romantics, polka dots, frontier and glamazon. The number of pieces on sale is relatively small, but as the items are one of a kind there'll likely be a steady influx of things sure to tickle your fancy. A few choice little bags are on sale now, including a dainty raffia tote and an oversize 70s clutch.
If your budget doesn't stretch to Olympia Le Tan's beautiful embroidered book clutches, which include classic titles such as The Bell Jar and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and retail at over €1000, New York designer Kate Spade's laminated silk versions are a less expensive option at $325. However, if you can only make one purchase at Kate Spade it has to be the armadillo wicker bag, which is bag in the shape of an armadillo. What could be more wonderfully silly?
ASOS has their own, more modest (and slightly sad) book purse version for £25, but if you're feeling a bit crafty, have a look at this step by step guide to making your own book clutch.