an ode to my balenciaga city bag

I first spotted the Balenciaga motorcycle bag on the arms of Kate Moss around 2001. It wasn’t long after that, that the it-girls of the moment, the infamous Olsen twins, Nicole Richie and so on, were seen carrying this buttery soft, structureless bag. Even though I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of their bohemian style at the time, I definitely was intrigued by that bag. Little did I know that the Balenciaga motorcycle bag almost wasn’t taken into production. In a 2011 interview with WWD Accessory Magazine, former creative director Nicolas Ghesquire talks about the 2001 Balenciaga runway show and how the motorcycle bag came close to never being made:

N.G.: And we did this prototype and nobody cared; we had a couple of prototypes for a year. Every girl who was walking [the show], including Kate [Moss] came in and was like, ‘What is that? Is it vintage? Is it something that you found at the flea market?’ I was like ‘No, it’s a handbag that we prototyped but just didn’t produce.’ We didn’t produce it because I think when I showed the prototype to the people who asked me to do it, they weren’t happy with it.

WWD: Too fashiony?
N.G.: Accessories [at the time] were rigid. Luxury leather, especially, was about rigidity. So they were not really happy, and they decided not to produce it. Then when it was in the studio and the models noticed it, I said, ‘I think we should just do 25. Let me just give them to the girls because at least some people will be happy.’ And that product started from a very, very fashion point of view [and extended] to a very, very large, global audience.

WWD: Why do you think it resonated so dramatically?
N.G.: No logo. Very light. Very effective. There is something familiar with the vintage side. Women and girls thought it was something they’d always have. It was a new fresh thing, but it looked like an old, good, friendly thing. And I think the brand also was becoming desirable. People had desire for my goods and [the bag] was the most accessible piece. You could be a Balenciaga girl with that bag.

Several years later I was still a student and definitely not in the position to spend over a $1000 on a designer bag. To be honest, it didn’t even cross my mind that I would ever seriously consider such an expensive purchase. So I did what so many of us on a budget do; look for a cheaper alternative. I was a lot less internet savvy at the time but managed to find an affordable knockoff anyway. Still, it didn’t come close enough to the real deal with its soft, slouchy leather so I kept on dreaming…

Flash forward to the summer of 2012 when I found myself in Paris at the Balenciaga store on Avenue George V with sweaty palms and tears in my eyes. The sales assistent was about to swipe my credit card when I panicked, what was I doing? Was I really about to spend over $1000 on this bag? I couldn’t go through with it and left the store empty handed. An hour or so later I was finally ready to take the plunge. After years of studying and landing my very first serious job just a few months earlier, this would be my ultimate reward.

It’s been four years and I haven’t regretted my purchase for one second. I get excited every time I take it out of its dust bag as it reminds me of a lot of hard work and perseverance. And yes, also because it’s absolutely gorgeous. Ghesquire was right in his observations. The fact that it has no visible logo and looks like an old vintage bag after a while are two of the things I like best about this bag. It’s fairly discrete and hardly anyone recognises it as a designer bag.

Now, after years of intense wear, the handles are slowly starting to fray and the corners are slightly damaged but I don’t mind. Bags are meant to be used, no matter the price. What I love about this particular bag is that it’s super lightweight and made of durable, distressed leather. Unlike most other bags that look their best untarnished, this bag only gets better with time. Its days as an it-bag might be over but I look forward to wearing my Balenciaga city bag for many more years to come.

Do you own a bag with a story?

planning a fall winter wardrobe

While I have my fall / winter wardrobe pretty much sorted, it never hurts to asses your current wardrobe and see if there are any gaps that need to be filled. I probably don’t need to tell you that these colder seasons are my favourites of the four. Cozy knits, thick coats and layering are the things I look forward to the most. As with my summer wardrobe I created a Pinterest board for inspiration. Both outfits in the images above are simple but chic nonetheless. While some might consider flared jeans trendy, I find them elegant and flattering and most of all, timeless when the combination is right, such as above. But as I’m extremely picky about the many different washes blue jeans come in, I consider my chances of finding the perfect pair of blue flared jeans very slim. And to be honest, I don’t really need them.

Material-wise I’m going with wool, cashmere and cotton. One thing I simply cannot live without when it’s cold, is a simple cotton camisole that I can wear underneath my knits and can tuck into my trousers. I will never forgot those days in high school when I needed to cycle to school and I could feel the wind on my lower back underneath my sweater and coat. That’s also the reason why I prefer longer coats by the way.

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My colour palette is as safe and subdued as it can possibly get but I’m okay with that. I’m not looking to experiment in any way. It’s funny how I used to think that nobody would notice my clothes because of how simple and monochrome they usually are. However, throughout the years I have learned that it’s all about the fit and cut of an item that may actually set your outfit apart. There’s no need for bold colours or prints and a hefty price tag is definitely no guarantee for a well-fitting garment. My old, very basic, black blazer from H&M Trend that I’ve owned for at least five years is beautifully cut and still receives many compliments.

But back to wardrobe planning, here’s a short list of things I wish to acquire this fall and/or winter:

  1. A grey merino wool cardigan. As much as I love cashmere, it’s too warm for the office.
  2. A pair of straight fitting jeans.
  3. Isabel Marant Igor blazer. I’ve had my eyes on it for quite some time now but I honestly think it’s tremendously overpriced. So hopefully I will get my hands on it during the sales.

All three items would easily fit into my existing wardrobe and the cardigan and blazer would make the transition from summer to fall to winter a lot easier. Additionally, ever since I lost a fair amount of weight, I’ve been in dire need of some new jeans. Below you’ll find two collages to see how I would style them with things I already own. Don’t expect anything too exciting though.

Please note, some of the links below are affiliate links.

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From left to right, top to bottom: Uniqlo merino wool cardigan (€40), Topshop straight jeans (€55), A.P.C. half moon bag (€345), Adidas Stan Smith (€85), Filippa K Dean coat (old)
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From left to right, top to bottom: Isabel Marant Igor blazer (€380), Topshop Jamie jeans (€55), Balenciaga city bag (€1395), Isabel Marant Dicker boots (€385), Isabel Marant Kenton t-shirt (€110)

cold weather essentials

An anonymous person asked me on Tumblr what my 5 cold weather essentials are, so I figured why not answer the question in a blogpost. I know, I’m cheating a little here but candles improve any bad weather situation so they’re not necessarily a cold weather essential.

1. Double-breasted wool peacoat from Isabel Marant (similar here)
2. Ambre candle from Diptyque
3. Cashmere cardigan from Uniqlo
4. Lambswool scarf from Acne Studios
5. Black chelsea boots from Massimo Dutti (similar here)
6. Lip balm from Kiehls or Nuxe

Now tell me yours!

packing for germany

Tomorrow I’ll be leaving for Germany for a few days with two of my friends. Just a short trip as one of them recently had a baby and doesn’t want to be away from her for too long which is totally understandable, but we try to travel to a nice city every year, last year we went to Atlanta and even got a guide from https://www.unlockitlocksmith.com/the-hottest-spots-in-atlanta/ with the best places to visit, and this year we chose Munich in Germany. I’m just happy we are able to continue our tradition. We’ll be staying in Ediger Eller, a small town that lies on the river Moselle, for some well-deserved peace and quiet. I’m looking forward to long walks, medieval architecture and practicing my German (Entschuldigen Sie mich, wo kann ich die Toilette finden?)

But before I’m off, the big question is: what to pack? I’m no stranger to lists. On the contrary, I love them and couldn’t imagine life without them. I use lists for work, to plan my wardrobe, for grocery shopping and of course the occasional trip. One of my favourite packing lists is Joan Didion’s from her 1979 book of essays The White AlbumI love how simple and succinct it is. Joan Didion packing list DaarbovenSeveral years ago I created my own version of the aforementioned list with a few alterations as I don’t drink or smoke for instance. And whereas Joan kept her list taped inside her closet, I keep mine as a permanent note on my phone. Now, even though we’re travelling by car and we won’t have to carry our luggage anywhere, I still prefer to pack as light as possible with just the right amount of everything. Sure, in the back of your mind you’re always wondering: what if? But it seems as though the weather will be relatively steady (26-32 degrees celcius) the upcoming days and I should be well prepared with the following items:

What to pack and wear:
2 pairs of trousers *
2 t-shirts
camisole *
pullover sweater
swimwear

1 Longchamp Le Pliage bag *
1 straw hat
1 pair of sunglasses
1 pair of sandals *
1 pair of decent walking shoes

Everything marked * will be what I’ll be wearing when we’re leaving. I’m sticking to a neutral color palette so that everything goes together (white, black, grey and brown). The Longchamp bag will be my travel bag. Once I unpack, I will be able to use it during the day. I’m not going to bring a coat as the sweater should be enough for the evenings. Oh and please note that I’m also bringing underwear, my camera, toiletries and my favourite on-the-road music.

What about you? Do you also have a travel/packing list?