Road Test: Fendi's Iconic Man Bag

25 September 2019
Fashion, Style, Bag, Fendi
Image: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
GQ's senior editor takes a Fendi ‘Baguette’ bag for a spin

I’ve always thought of myself as something of a Carrie Bradshaw. Bear with me here.

Like our Sex and the City protagonist, Ms Caroline Bradshaw, I go by a shortened version of my name, opting for Chris over Christopher. And like Carrie, I too am a part-time writer with an unhealthy obsession for clothes. (Presumably, we both honed our craft during all that extra time we’ve gained since dropping the latter half of our names. But I could be wrong.)

For anyone still unaware of who Carrie Bradshaw is, we’re talking about the star of the iconic 90s TV show Sex and the City, played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Please keep up. Seinfeld and Game of Thrones are not the only acceptable cultural references, chaps.

Anyway, I digress. I was here for Carrie – her individuality, her wit and most importantly, her wardrobe.

Now, by way of disclaimer, while young Chris had aspirations to dismantle the patriarchy, I can’t say I was pining for Carrie’s wardrobe exactly. Instead, what I respected was the notion she had at her fingertips an arsenal of items that had the power to reinvent her and that were, in themselves, talking points that could command the attention of a room. Carrie turned heads and I, sitting there in my PJs, knew that’s what I wanted as well.

Few Sex in the City episodes passed by without an iconic Carrie moment. Every time she sat down to write her column for the New York Star, she did so with such elegance I assumed all writing should be done on an Apple Mac with a glass of red by your side. You can only imagine my mother’s reaction as I poured a large mug of Shiraz to ease the pain of my English homework. Apparently, we don’t all play by the same rules – yet another valuable life lesson I learned from Ms Bradshaw.

The most Carrie of all Carrie moments, however, came in season three, episode 17, What Goes Around Comes Around. I’m sure you’re all with me. Carrie takes a wrong turn while shoe shopping – classic Carrie! – and finds herself in a part of New York she doesn’t recognise. Approaching a stranger, our heroine asks for directions. The man doesn’t return Carrie’s friendliness and instead pulls out a gun.

“Gimme your bag!” the thug demands in what I can now discern is a less than authentic Italian-American accent.

Carrie is astonished. Me? Mugged?

Upon regaining her composure, she responds in the only way Carrie knows how.

It’s a bag-uette.”

Oh snap.

Admittedly I had no idea what Carrie meant being that I was only 11 years old at the time. But I got the picture: here was a bag that was so damn desirable that it being referred to only by its utilitarian purpose was a great offense. A bag that one does not simply hand over even if a gun is being pointed at one’s head.

I had no such bag in my life. But one thing was for sure – I was going to get one.

After some brief research (read: asking mum) I found out the details of this sought-after piece of luggage. It was, as Carrie helpfully pointed out, the ‘Baguette’ bag, made by Italian luxury fashion house Fendi.


Baguette Black leather bag, $4050

Noted.

First released back in 1997, the ‘Baguette’ defined what it meant to be a ‘It’ statement item, the likes of which never go out of production and see countless imitations. It was designed as a small, compact bag to be carried under your arm – like a Parisian might do an actual baguette – and contrasted the oversized purses popular at the time.

Its role as Carrie’s go-to bag and appearance on one of the biggest shows on the planet – before such product placements were commonplace – helped to immortalise Fendi’s invention in popular culture and confirmed Carrie as gatekeeper to the hottest fashion trends of the time.

“Having Carrie wear the ‘Baguette’ was a defining moment for us, and marked the beginning of everything,” Sarah Jessica-Parker reflected. “Once Fendi loaned us items, everyone was more willing to do so, which helped us dramatically in conveying Carrie’s decadence.”

Again, I wasn’t sure what ‘decadence’ meant, but I, too, wanted some.

With the more pressing matters of homework and puberty facing me, I stuck a pin in this revelation – as I did with my love of Sex in the City altogether – and agreed to revisit the pair later in life.

Well, that time is now.


Baguette Black leather bag, $4050

In the 19 years that have passed, fashion has gone though something of a genderless makeover. Traditionally ‘masculine’ tropes in clothing – think suits, flannel shirts, loose-fitting jeans – no longer command the same meaning as when Carrie Bradshaw was walking the streets of Manhattan.

In-keeping with this emerging trend, Fendi recently announced they would be rereleasing the ‘Baguette’ bag, this time for men – and they wanted me to give it a test run. Finally, I was to be afforded my Carrie moment.

The bag arrived at our offices boxed and wrapped in many layers of protective coating. This all seemed to make sense. After all, if Carrie was willing to die for a ‘Baguette’, the least I could do was make sure I don’t spill my Piccolo on one.

Coming as it does with a range of straps, the bag can be hand-carried or worn across body in a multitude of ways. I opted for the traditional over the shoulder so as to channel Carrie as faithfully as I could.

Having lived with the ‘Baguette’ for nearly a month – yes, one does not simply own a ‘Baguette’ – I can tell you, I’m a changed man. While I am admittedly on the metrosexual side of masculinity, the idea of embracing elements of clothing typically considered female seemed more a conceptual preference rather than a practical one.

I’m all for breaking down barriers but said barriers remained relatively firm when it came to my own wardrobe. Until the ‘Baguette’.

Because, while Fendi’s ‘It’ piece obviously serves a function in transporting your essentials, it’s true value comes in its undeniable style. Its decadence.

The ‘Baguette’ transcends any outfit or trend to become the star of the show. The closest thing men have had to such a standout piece of clothing or accessory is either a pair of shoes or a watch. Having just bought my third pair of overpriced Yeezys, it’s safe to say I’m more than familiar with using sneakers to hold up a ’fit. As for watches, my bank balance has as yet prevented me from diving too deep into that particular pool.

If the ‘Baguette’ has taught me anything, it’s that it’s about time we invested in bags.

After carrying mine to work for a good few weeks I was left somewhat disappointed there was no one waiting in the shadows to mug me. Nonetheless I continued on my mission undeterred. Knowing Vogue’s American Express Fashion Night Out (VAEFNO) was on the horizon, I sensed an opportunity to unveil the ‘Baguette’ with maximum impact.

I arrived at the entrance to Vogue’s VIP section – entering alongside the commoners was clearly not an option considering the nature of my visit – with some colleagues who just so happened to be named Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Within moments we were halted by security.

“Can I see the bag, Sir?”

I paused, and with what I felt was just the right balance of indignation and arrogant nonchalance, I fired back:

“It’s a bag-uette.”


Via GQ Australia