It’s difficult to argue with the idea that the FENDI Baguette bag was one of — if not the most — coveted handbag silhouettes of the late 1990s.
Featured prominently in fashion pages and on the arms of socialites after its release in 1997, the bag reached cult status thanks to its regular appearance on the cult-classic show Sex in the City. (Few fans can forget the moment Carrie Bradshaw corrected the man who was robbing her on a side street of New York when he demanded “Give me your bag!” “It’s a Baguette,” she replied as she reluctantly passed him the purple-sequined purse.)
The presence of the handbag on the HBO show, as it turns out, coincided perfectly with the ethos harboured by the Italian fashion house.
“FENDI was the first luxury brand to lend pieces for it,” Silvia Venturini Fendi, the creative director of menswear, accessories and kids at FENDI, explains of the indelible link between the family founded brand and the popular show. “We loved the idea of the plot, which was, in fact, based around four women, strong ones, who were crazy about fashion. It was very similar to us. We are a company of women. And we thought it was a very good story.”
But the handbag’s popularity at the time was also helped by the fact that the bag was stylish — and unique.
The petite, oblong-bag fit perfectly under one’s arm, carried the day’s essentials (although, it may have been a bit small given the size of the day’s cellphones) and came in a variety of materials and finishes. The handbag style provided a much-needed break from the less-is-more mood that was dominating the decade’s fashion sense.
“The Baguette bag broke the rules of ’90s minimalism,” Venturini Fendi says. “It was distractive for the moment when fashion people were really into minimalism.
“The Baguette added a touch of brightness, fun. The first accessory to be treated like a garment, it was breaking the uniform that we all had.”
And now, 22 years later since its initial release, the FENDI Baguette is back.
“We introduced a new oversized design together with a mini-version, crafted from a range of materials, including hyper-soft, FF logo-embossed leather, denim and embroidered jacquard,” Venturini Fendi explains of how the classic style was initially reintroduced in the brand’s spring/summer 2019 collection. “With the addition of a longer strap, you can wear it different ways. It is no longer just an evening bag worn under the arm.
“The Baguette bag continues to evolve and transform itself while staying loyal to its unique DNA, celebrating the dynamic elegance rooted in the FENDI identity.”
But, one thing that has stayed the same about the bag — and the company itself — is its interest in promoting women, and their friends. The sentiment is supported by the company’s recent videos starring groups of women including models, fashion bloggers and actresses (Sarah Jessica Parker made an appearance in a recent video , much to the delight of Sex in the City fans). The latest star-powered pair to lend their faces to the campaign are actresses Emma Roberts and Amanda Seyfried.
The duo share a “whimsical experience” with the handbag silhouette in a new vignette for the FENDI bag, which was shot at the brand’s New York flagship store.
“It was great to work together with Emma on this FENDI project because she’s herself, easy to connect with, madly funny, bold and no-nonsense,” Seyfried said in a news release of the experience. “I love working with women I respect and connect to. It feels powerful and fun.”
“Any time you can mix work and friendship, it’s a win,” Roberts added.
So, does the designer, who also happens to be the original mastermind behind the now-iconic handbag silhouette (she says it, alongside the popular Peekaboo bag, are FENDI’s two most recognizable styles), still enjoy the design as much as when she first created it? The answer is, somewhat predictably, yes.
“Your baguette becomes your best friend because it is with you all the time,” Venturini Fendi says. “It’s something that is so personal for a woman. You wear it so close to your body it becomes like your best friend.”
Although, when asked to pinpoint her favourite FENDI Baguette purse, it was decidedly more difficult for the creative director to choose.
“I used to have a large collection, but now my daughters have stolen most of them,” Venturini Fendi says. “I don’t have a favourite one as there are too many. There are some who have a special place in my heart or are linked to a particular memory and moment in time.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019