There are a lot of texts that go through my phone during fashion month. A whole bunch. Photos from shows, links to news, more than a few scathing remarks — it’s a fun time! But earlier this week, a photo got sent to me of the sometimes elusive Frank Ocean sitting front row at the Raf Simons show. Nearby were Rick Owens and his wife Michele Lamy. And sitting in front of Ocean, collapsing onto itself was an oversized, green bag, handles enmeshed with one another, and a single zipper on the front.
“Do we know where this bag is from?” the text from writer and art critic Antwaun Sargent read. I forwarded him to a few friends, throwing out a few names: Hugo Boss, Bottega Veneta? At a recent preview for Bottega they showed a selection of huge bags. Maybe this was some variation I didn’t see.
I’m not a huge bag person, but anyone can appreciate a work of art. The bag in question is big enough to be a carry-all, perfect for a day trip (a weekend even if you pack light). The leather looked supple, in a way that only gets better with age. There, slouching at the Raf show it demanded attention amongst an already stand-out presentation. But who was the designer?
It took until today that I decided to finally tweet out my question. I had googled a few brands that I thought it might be, the aforementioned as well as other names like Celine, Lanvin, Rick Owens and even Prada. I was a bit at a loss. But Frank was out and about again with the bag, now outside the Louis Vuitton show, toting it on his shoulder. I dropped that image in a thread and my tweet took off, the responses rolling in.
Some were a bit nonsense, suggesting that the bag it self was Raf Simons given how much Ocean is a fan of the designer and had initially appeared at his show with it. But I knew offhand that it wasn’t Raf’s aesthetic. But then the name Celine kept coming up.
My initial thoughts that the item of this online scavenger hunt could be Celine had to do with the handles really. There’s a way that these particular handles were sewn onto the bag, from what I could tell, and the way that the zipper was seamlessly inserted into the design that reminded me of the Parisian brand. And it would make sense to connect Bottega Veneta: the new designer there, who had designed the collection I previewed, had come from Phoebe Philo’s Celine.
I passed the update on to Antwaun with a few other notes speculating about what season it might be and put my phone down. When I picked it up again, minutes later, he had sent back a photo of the look on the runway already. Celine, Fall 2017, during the days of Phoebe Philo. A travesty.
As of last fall, the house of Celine has been run by Hedi Slimane. A decisive designer who has been known to move a ton of product at historied brands (he literally put the Homme in Dior Homme, took the Yves from Yves Saint Laurent and removed the accent from Céline) Slimane’s entry into a house generally marks a completely new era. He has taken to wiping the slate clean, entirely, and essentially starting from scratch with brands, which sometimes disappoints those who have been loyal to the label, but generally causes sales to spike.
What does all of this mean? The only way you’re probably getting this beautiful bag is if you can buy it from someone else — we emailed Celine in fact to confirm that this was in fact their bag (it is) and that it was no longer available (it's not). A travesty indeed.