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Trend report: mini bags


They say good things come in small packages, and that’s certainly true when it comes to the latest trend in handbags. 2015 was the year of the mini-bag, with everyone from Prada to Fendi downsizing their iconic styles to miniature proportions – and the trend looks set to continue throught 2016

Sally McIlhone,

Tiny trunks
Louis Vuitton’s Petite Malle was one of the most exciting offerings of the past year. A shrunken version of the traditional Louis Vuitton travel trunk, the Petite Malle moved swiftly from catwalks to red carpets, carried by Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman to name just two. In a recent interview with Vogue, Louis Vuitton’s CEO Michael Burke explained his initial misgivings, admitting that it was only designer Nicolas Ghesquière’s passion that pushed the project further. ‘Trunks are expensive to make, and they’re difficult to make, so when Nicolas said, “This is what I want to do,” the artisans said, “No!” But, of course, they have done it beautifully.’

Validating Ghesquière’s vision, the tiny trunk has been so well received that further styles have been launched for spring/summer 2016. The Petite Malle was seen on the catwalk in black with a gold and silver metallic chain print, and in a red and black stingray effect incarnation, complete with chain strap and white leather clasp. The style has also been adapted to feature black circular corner details on bags in powder pink, in monochrome snakeskin-style print, or the traditional house monogram. There are certainly plenty of little Louis Vuitton luxury bags to choose from for the new season, so be sure to clear a (miniature) space in your wardrobe.

Paris goes petite
Smaller proved better when it came to handbags for many other of the major Parisian fashion houses. Saint Laurent sent grungy princesses down the catwalk with sequined pouches, whose chain straps were held in the hand rather than slung across the shoulder. Chloé produced mustard suede mini-bags with swaying tassels, brown leather front-pocket panels and on-trend cross-body straps. Grey and pale pink offerings mixed leather and suede and boasted circular chrome handles and chain clasp details, complementing Chloé’s 1970s festival-inspired lace minidresses.

Parisian accessories specialists are also choosing to downsize when it comes to bags. Roger Vivier has created black and orange stitched mini-bags with chain straps and fringe details – a running theme across many collections for spring/summer 2016 – as well as a metallic silver embellished square mini-bag with front clasp.

East meets west
Andrew Gn is from Singapore, but opened his eponymous label in Paris in 1996. The selection of mini-bags from his 20th anniversary collection showcases denim-effect leather, beaded shoulder straps, bright flower and butterfly designs, and a range of stunningly detailed prints across blue, black and cream backgrounds. ‘I design my mini-bags like jewel boxes: precious materials, stones, pearls, embroideries,’ the designer explains. ‘They become little objets d’art.’ When it comes to why the trend is so popular, Gn believes it goes beyond bags. ‘Miniaturisation is everywhere. Everything we use gets smaller and more compact. A modern woman wants her daily basics within easy reach in a miniature bag.’ Look out for Gn’s Pocket and Psychedelic mini-bags for spring/summer 2016.

Literary inspiration
Olympia Le-Tan, who launched her eponymous label seven years ago, came to prominence thanks to her literary-inspired clutches and minaudières: diminutive, decorative bags without handles or straps, designed to resemble iconic books. Le-Tan’s latest collection, Sentimental Journey, is inspired by her love of Japan. The designer has adapted the covers of classic Japanese novels, recreating their designs as clutches in her signature felt, as well as creating boxy bags with folding closures and embroidered ribbon details. Elsewhere mini cases carry hand-stitched Polaroid-style images of women in brightly coloured kimonos. Our favourite, though, has to be the beaded Maneki-neko (or ‘beckoning cat’) clutch, ideal for adding a touch of whimsy to a spring look.

Embracing your inner child
In an interview with Purple magazine, Le-Tan explained that making her collection was a way for her to continue being a child. ‘Kids use felt for arts and crafts because it doesn’t fray and it’s easy to cut,’ she said. ‘It’s actually a primitive fabric. It’s soft and comes in cute colours. I like the texture. Even the embroideries I do, which are quite elaborate and time-consuming, use the really basic stitches. I guess I just do it in a very advanced way.’

Whether you prefer a Japanese-inspired minaudière, a printed leather handbag with beaded strap or a tiny trunk, Paris’s elite designers have every luxurious one your heart could desire, small but perfectly formed.

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