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Hold, Please: The New Handbag Rule

When does a bag become more than just another accessory? When it appears as if it’s not being carried at all

Toting your handbag in alternate ways isn’t a groundbreaking idea, but for 2014 there’s a new way to approach the accessory: as if it weren’t one.

At Céline’s spring 2014 show, models grasped clutches like pillows, giving dimension to each look’s art prints and layered silhouettes. At Kenzo, shoulder bags matching the patterns and hues on the dresses and skirts rested on the hip while held at the base. And, looking ahead to fall, models toted two bags at Balenciaga (it seemed Alexander Wang was appealing to the working woman). All this is new evidence that a bag is no longer just a bag. They’re being designed, styled and paired with a specific outfit—an integral piece to the whole look.

Balenciaga, fall 2014

Carven, fall 2014

The nifty styling trick has been spotted on runways before (handcuffed clutches at Louis Vuitton, fuzzy clutches under armpits at Céline) and is changing the way in which we accessorize with our handbags. What if they’re more than accessories; what if the bag and the look are one and the same?

“There is a feeling of ‘selling out’ when you see a token bag walk down the runway which is not serving any purpose,” says Justin O’Shea, Buying Director at MyTheresa.com. “I believe that the brands are using unique styling tactics to include bags on the runway, and they need this global platform to spotlight their bags of the season.”

Balenciaga, fall 2014

Balenciaga, fall 2014

Indeed, the bags on Kenzo’s spring 2014 runway and Proenza Schouler and 3.1 Phillip Lim’s fall shows were constructed in complimentary hues to the collection, then paired seamlessly with a look that appeared as if the models weren’t carrying a bag at all. On Carven’s fall runway, soft clutches were created in matching colors to the dresses and skirt suits that opened the show, then clutched to the chest as if they were holding close a coat or jacket.

Bags, it seems, are becoming just as key to an outfit as, well, the outfit itself, and pairing a clutch or tote with a thoughtful look could be as simple as tucking them under your arm—no straps necessary.

 

MORE:

Accessories in the Nude: 2014’s Stand Out Color
The New $40,000 It Bag
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