October 24 2010
The public are no pushovers when it comes to trends. I often notice how a new idea will be splashed across the media, but the way people actually use it in their own lives is very different. This autumn’s catwalks were full of genteel, short-handled frame bags – great for the ladylike look, but not so practical for those of us who are used to hands-free shoulderbags rather than a handle in the crook of an arm. True to form, the most popular interpretation of this retro-modern look is shaping up to be the new, plain, longer-handled bag, as in Phoebe Philo’s box bag for Céline, currently gracing exquisitely modish shoulders everywhere.
Suddenly a small shoulderbag seems very desirable (the style harks back to a time before women carried a portable office). But as the Céline is a non-starter for me at way over £1,000, I set out to find the best sensibly-priced example, and it proved harder than you might think to find a quality bag with the right low-key, retro look but big enough to carry today’s essentials.
What I finally found, and fell in love with, was Longchamp’s Gatsby. Chic and discreet, it’s not large, but the double pocket, flapover style and extra pockets inside – one full-width with a zip and two big enough for an iPhone – make it very practical, and a typical style from this long-established family firm.
I chose the plain version in sheeny, brownish-red leather (first picture, £475) – the toning, graphic leopard-print lining is the hidden fun element – but it also comes in python-effect (second picture) and dark, animal-print calfskin. Longchamp has concentrated hard lately on its tie-up with Kate Moss and her 1970s-inspired bags and it may seem strange to go instead for this modest, almost anonymous style. But isn’t that just what we all want right now?