Bags of Style

Jil Sander infuriated the Internet a few years ago when she launched a hand-stitched lunch bag made of coated paper and resembling a McDonald’s carryall. Naturally, writers were taken aback by the price tag but many failed to recognise the irony of the piece or the influence contemporary art played in its design.

Personally, I loved the idea – God, I even blogged about it – appreciating that it drew more from Marcel Duchamp and Roy Lichtenstein than it did easily-packaged, commoditised goods by Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors and Co.

Just like Duchamp’s Fountain, Sanders took a mass-produced item, signed it and challenged critics by posing questions relating to object, function and the role of the designer.

I’m a sucker for this kinda stuff, which is why Anya Hindmarch’s Crisp Packet clutch bag got me grinning a few weeks back. Described on net-a-porter as a “gilded ‘Crisp Packet’, which took months to perfect and is designed as a “piece of wearable art,”  it was made in Florence, with each piece taking around seven hours to produce.

Andy Warhol, the shaman of modern art once said, ‘The reason I am painting this way is that I want to be a machine. I think it would be terrific if everyone was alike.’

To this end, Andy Warhol signed Campbell’s soup-cans and aligned himself with the forces which governed post-war America. By becoming like everyone else, Warhol became unique.

This bag by comparison does the reverse. Instead it turns the objet trouvé into a sleek design that appears simplistic but is imbued with one of a kind craftsmanship.

Of course, ultimately I can only ever pay lip service to these products, which I love but could never afford. It’s probably for the best though as Hindmarch’s metallic clutch might share another Warholian quality: Pop Art by its nature makes its point clearly, convincingly and immediately meaning a viewer need not look at the image ever again. Pop Art is intended to be disposable.

At €1,195, this crisp packet is far from disposable, but the idea could rapidly stale.