P IS FOR POCKETBOOK
BY: KATE GORDON
COVER ART: JULIANNA LUKACS
At the sharp age of five, I believed—and continue to believe—that a handbag is the quintessential accessory. Sitting on my mother’s closet floor, watching her adorn herself in wrap dresses and stilettos, my eyes would go wide whenever she’d pull a leather showstopper off her top shelf. It was the cherry on top of a perfect, elegant look. And once she left for work, I’d take the tallest step stool I could find, reach up to that very high shelf, and play dress up with her designer bags, whose names I couldn’t pronounce. And I couldn’t wait to own one.
Although I dabbled with bags of my own throughout my teens, they were all quickly retired, as they were too trendy and had “fast-fashion” written all over them: a shade of lavender that was only fit for May, a style that was too reminiscent of Hilary Duff. I envied the timeless pocketbooks that Carrie Bradshaw, my mother and my grandma alike would wear through seasons of Sex and the City or for decades, serving as our family’s matriarchs. What has allowed top handbag designers to flourish for years on end is returning to the pocketbook blueprint: smooth leather, simplicity, and classic beauty. Styles, shades and shapes are recycled, reused, and repurposed, with new life breathed into them by Celine and Bottega Venetta, keeping these bags and these names at the industry’s vanguard. Which is why everyone from Bradshaw and my grandma to Queen Elizabeth can perfectly sport the same pocketbook. And also why my young attempts at emulating my mother’s style failed.
The pocketbook symbolizes fashion’s immortality; it’s a look that never dies, just like how fashion will live on forever. Fashion has been and will continue to be a focal point of self-expression, individualism, and a way for the average person to engage with arts and society—and a pocketbook is my own avenue into my fashion personality. Ever since my mother gave me her vintage Louis Vuitton shoulder bag during quarantine—which is now my most prized possession—I have grown into my personal style. When I wear this bag, I feel confident, connecting with the timeless, classy side of fashion. My mother sported the piece when she was just a few years older than myself, and now I follow in her footsteps. Yet the incredible thing about the pocketbook is that it is never out-of-date. This is no secret, and Louis Vuitton has certainly caught on, since their shoulder bags today are about 4.2 times the price my mother bought hers for years ago. The pocketbook is a nod towards fashion’s pioneers, an acknowledgement of the past and a window into the future.
I have no plans to retire my vintage LV, that is until I have a daughter of my own. But until then, I will proudly sport the pocketbook, and I am confident that others around the world will continue to do so, too.