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FW23: A closer look at the It-bags that ruled the runways

By Partner


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Image: Courtesy of Dior

The Fall/Winter 2023 ready-to-wear catwalk season has officially ended after hundreds of brands showed their collections in New York, London, Milan, and Paris in recent weeks – along with a star-studded Versace presentation in Los Angeles.

Seeing the latest looks from the fashion week runways in all four fashion capitals, one thing became clear: the bags of the season were presented in an abundance of styles, shapes and colours. This season proved that a quality handbag does more than simply hold your necessities; it also acts as the finishing touch that elevates your outfit from casual to street-style perfection.

Read on to learn which classic bags ruled the runways this season and proved once more that they will stand the test of time, with four standout but classic pieces from iconic brands and their stories of origin.

Louis Vuitton’s Bucket Bag

The bucket bag, a form that is now a mainstay in many handbag enthusiasts' closets, was first developed by French luxury house Louis Vuitton, when Gaston-Louis Vuitton, the grandson of the label’s namesake founder, created the Noé bag in 1932. The bag has a bucket-like form, a reinforced bottom, and a drawstring closure. Although the bucket bag as we know it today serves as an everyday purse for our belongings, its purpose was initially for something very different, and notably more lavish: This gorgeous bag was originally made to safely transport up to five bottles of champagne at once. The Louis Vuitton champagne bottle bag is where the modern bucket bag traces its history back to. The name “Noé” has a very practical origin, even if the bag itself was born out of a fancy need. The name, which is the French version of the name Noah, was chosen because the biblical figure of the same name is known not only for building the world’s most famous arc, but also for his penchant for a good wine. The Noé is still manufactured today, and Louis Vuitton has expanded the range to include numerous variations, such as a miniature and nano version.

Dior’s Book Tote

Only a few words are needed to describe the Dior Book Tote: practical, stylish and convenient.

When Maria Grazia Chiuri debuted the Dior Book Tote as part of the company's Spring/Summer 2018 collection, it immediately became an iconic favourite. The first versions were inspired by a Marc Bohan drawing from 1967 that was found in the luxury house's archives. While the bag has a straightforward appearance and minimalist silhouette, its unique embroidery takes more than 37 hours and a whopping 1.5 million stitches to complete. And while the simplicity of the shape is striking, the exquisite craftsmanship and overall design embody the rich heritage that Dior stands for.

As soon as those Dior bags were released, it quickly rose to popularity among style-conscious travellers, influencers, celebrities and handbag lovers. The bag serves as a carry-all for travelling or everyday use and is just as practical as it is iconic. Since its debut, the company has introduced two more sizes, which are slightly smaller than the original version, innumerable variations of materials and colours, and various limited-edition models. Although the resale market is brimming with past variations, Dior keeps things interesting by producing new designs each season.

Fendi’s Baguette bag

The Baguette bag, frequently referred to as the first-ever It-bag, was introduced by Fendi in 1997. The purse, designed by Venturini Fendi, wasn't well received at first as the design team was concerned about making a bold statement with a handbag at a time when minimalism was at the forefront of fashion. It initially featured a beige “FF” motif on a fuzzy material, with a single strap and a flap fastening. The Baguette's appeal lies in the fact that it is a blank canvas, perfectly suited to be tailored towards the tone of the current collection – every season anew.

Since its debut in an episode of Sex and the City in October 2000, the Baguette has been used in various different ways throughout the Fendi collection. Returning to its origin, Fendi launched a collaboration with Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker in 2022 in which a limited-edition Baguette bag came to life. The Baguette is offered in three main sizes: a standard Baguette, a Baguette mini, and a Baguette multi. To keep things exciting, the finishes of this versatile bag change each season.

The It-bag has become a classic, with the fashion world eagerly awaiting the appearance of "It" every season. By official definition, an It-bag is a luxury designer handbag that sells well for a few seasons; however, some bags, like the Fendi Baguette, transcend this definition to become revered as icons in the fashion industry for several decades.

Chanel’s Quilted bag

The Quilted bag represents a modest and chic style appearing on the wish lists of many women - and one that never goes out of style. The original name of Chanel’s Quilted bag is “2.55”, referring to the day the bag was first designed back in February 1955.

The 2.55 bag was born out of a desire for convenience. “I grew sick of holding my purses in my hands and losing them, so I added a strap and carried them over my shoulder,” is how Coco Chanel described her inspiration, as cited in Justine Picardie’s book titled after the iconic fashion designer.

Several elements, like horse bridles and harnesses as well as belts worn by the nuns in charge of Coco's early education, are thought to have potentially influenced the design of the chain strap that defines the 2.55, though that isn’t known for sure. Coco Chanel loved horse-riding as a young girl, and years later still found inspiration in the equestrian attire reserved to men, such as quilted fabrics worn by those who worked in the stables. This is said to be why quilted leather has played such an integral role in the brand’s collections.

The original bag had a burgundy lining to correspond with the colour of Coco Chanel’s Catholic school uniforms. It is said that the zipped pocket on the front flap of the bag served the designer’s habit of keeping love letters in her purse. The Chanel 2.55 is arguably the most recognised bag in the fashion world. It was also Chanel’s first quilted flap bag to later evolve into an iconic line of different styles and shapes. When it was first designed in 1955, it made waves as the very first shoulder bag created for women, and still to this day is one of the most popular styles sold by Chanel.