Three-Cornered Bag

Balenciaga bag AW 2018

By Mao Shan Wang

The triangle may not be the most obvious shape for a bag, but in the case of Balenciaga, that’s probably the point. So far, the brand that Demna Gvasalia has remade releases bags that seem to take a dig at regular carriers such as shopping bags. Their latest triangular handbag, conversely, appears to be inspired by something a lot more playful.

Such as a kid’s satchel? I remember seeing a rather similar shape at a housing estate trade fair, one that usually appears during in the weeks that lead up to a holiday, such as Christmas or Hari Raya. The bag that I now recall is in pink vinyl, with a scene from Frozen printed in the front. It hanged next to a ponderous-looking backpack in the same colour and of the same theme. Surely the stall-keeper must have thought that a girl who desires a backpack for school would like a matching handbag for after-school hours with her friends.

I can’t be sure that Mr Gvasalia saw the bag I did and was inspired, but I wouldn’t put it past him to single out something so kitschy or banal for ideas. Ikea’s Frakta carrier, I am sure, is still fresh in your mind. In fact, people are still carrying it as their regular tote, as if a season’s trendy irony never went away. Perhaps it did not, for the latest Balenciaga bag, known as the Triangle Medium Duffle, is in the same Ikea blue!

The bag feels a little strange in the hand, not because it is shaped like a photo corner and not because it is surprisingly rather light, but because it is stiff and small. In volume, it is probably as capacious as the 25-cm Hermès Kelly. In looks, however, it shares the same seriousness as a pair of platform Crocs that Balenciaga issued for the spring/summer 2018 season. Both are to be worn with humour and as counterpoint to the street style excess that’s getting a little too serious for its own good.

As it is a triangle with one point for the base, your prized possessions such as smartphone, battery bank, wallet, compact and such won’t lay flat at the bottom. They would have to be organised diagonally, which may cause some orientation problem when retrieving them. Ill organisation really means you have even less space to carry your life along with you. Do also note, the bag does not sit upright.

This bag reminds me of another bag: the almost-rectangular-but-quadrilateral Comme des Garçons X Beatles ‘Boat Bag’. The Balenciaga version is, of course, symmetrical, but both share something in common: they come from createurs who do not make fashion easy for their fans and users. Not that I mind.

Balenciaga Triangle Medium Duffle, SGD3,070, is available at Dover Street Market Singapore amd Belenciaga, Paragon. Photo: Jim Sim

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