Here’s something to chew on: My etiquette coach once told me that the Duchess of Cambridge would never hold her handbag under her armpit. It’s considered uncouth. While standing still, the most polite way to carry a bag is, apparently, between your own two lobster claws and over your hoo-ha like a fig leaf. (Not a verbatim quote, but good enough to paint the picture.)
Fashion has never been one for manners, at least not the kind that shakes things up in this sometimes-stodgy business. Yet for years, purses have at least hung on shoulder straps long enough to appease the courts, or found homes between the palms of their owners’ hands down where everyone can see ’em. No funny business. Then in 1997, fashion’s Wild West, Silvia Venturini Fendi designed the baguette.
“This petite shoulder bag nestles under the arm as easily as the long, crusty French loaf from which it borrows its name,” wrote Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue.com’s Archive Editor, in a 2015 retrospective of the It Bag. She said the baguette was made famous by an appearance on Sex and the City. “Rumor has it that more than 100,000 were sold in the first year.”
“It was foolish,” she quoted of Silvia Venturini Fendi. “[A] treat, anti-functional. It was the first bag that was treated like a garment.”
Clutched under every important fashion armpit you could imagine, the iconic bag and its fellow armpit pals had a great run, but per my own calculations, around 2008, the baguette went stale. I suppose it was inevitable.
Luckily for Juicy Couture and low-rise jeans, 2017 is the year 2000’s official comeback committee, and with that comes the end of gluten-free purses. If you disagree, just wait. Slowly but surely, I guarantee, the baguette’s dough will soon begin to rise. (I could knead these puns all day, don’t tempt me with a bake-off.) Fendi’s classic rendition returned with a retro-knit roar; I’ve spotted Dior’s iconic saddle bag — shot here in a teeny, tiny version, not a current model but instead a find on TheRealReal — under the arms of a few anonymous but stylish New Yorkers of late; Mansur Gavriel’s modern update isn’t just the bread, it’s the whole picnic; meanwhile Trademark’s satin loaf is technically an oversized wristlet, but if it fits under your pits, why fight it?
Click through the slideshow for a few more. You’ll note the 2017 baguette comes in everything from crouton to hoagie roll to play-sword alternative. Let your eyes grow wide, your mouth water, your arms open. Say yes to the bread basket, for heaven’s sake!
Sorry, in honor of my etiquette coach who I’ve now betrayed, make that a very emphatic yes please.
Modeled by Kayla Clarke of Marilyn Agency, follow her on Instagram @kaylaclrk. Photos by Edith Young. Styled with Boden linen shirt and Alighieri jewelry.