The late Jane Birkin’s presence was felt across the spring/summer 2024 collections: models carried woven baskets and leather totes spilling over with belongings and decorated with trinkets, echoing the chaotic manner in which the actor used to stuff her namesake Birkin bags. Charms and keys decorated black leather bags at Balenciaga, at Bottega Veneta baskets contained rolled up newspapers and a change of shirt, and spare pairs of shoes spilled from Miu Miu’s totes. Here were accessories designed for heavy-duty use, rather than to be a mere finishing touch for an outfit.
The quiet luxury aesthetic that has dominated the handbag category over the past few seasons has seen a focus on clean lines, supple leather and an absence of logos. But amidst the minimal envelope clutches and simple leather totes were handbags brimming with personality. At Prada, frame-style bags in shirred leather or silk came with an eccentric hand-carved fastening resembling a horrified man’s head. Sabato De Sarno made his debut at Gucci and gave the classic Jackie bag a revamp via webs of dazzling crystals. Proportions were key across all cities, with enormous bags at Victoria Beckham, The Row and Loewe, juxtaposed with shrunken mini bags that laughed in the face of practicality.
From the ultra-practical clutch bag to the supersized tote, we breaks down the key bag shapes for spring/summer 2024, and highlights the specific styles destined for cult status.
“My life is chaos” bags
Most handbags that appear on the runway are empty, apart from some strategic padding to create structure – you certainly don’t hear keys jangling as a model walks. That is until the spring/summer 2024 shows, where the bags were overflowing with the stuff of daily life. Stefan Cooke’s Mulberry bags were adorned with charms and foam fingers (sure), Bottega Veneta’s had gym bag energy and contained rolled up newspapers and spare shirts, Givenchy’s totes were weighed down with keychains and trinkets, while Prada’s new bag clasp is a tiny man’s head.
Quiet luxury, what?
Quiet luxury still had a place in the spring/summer 2024 collections, but many designers also embraced loud and in your face wealth, via crystals, sparkle and lots of gold. At Schiaparelli, an extravagant white tote bag was adorned with a gold wrist watch, gold chains and a charm bracelet. There were a few striking party bags in the mix, too – 16Arlington’s sequin clutch bags look like catnip for It-girls.
Building on this return to ostentation, some designers treated handbags as an extension of the jewellery category, showing gold and silver handles that resemble necklaces. Loewe’s Squeeze bag was back for another season, with a beautiful gold chain dangling from the handle, while Tom Ford, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton all embraced metallic hardware. Michael Kors took the look into disco territory, with gold decorative chains that echoed the belts seen on the dancefloor at Studio 54 back in the ’70s.
The return of the envelope
If Miu Miu’s “my life is a mess” totes aren’t for you, then consider the discreet envelope clutch. It’s big enough to house a strict edit of essentials, but has a neat and streamlined shape that will make any outfit look instantly refined. Tom Ford is one of the key instigators of this trend, with Peter Hawkings proving that, when it comes to evening dressing, nothing is chicer than a slimline clutch.
Red has emerged as the shade of 2023, and it’s going nowhere next year, as dozens of noteworthy handbags were realised in fiery chilli and tomato shades. Celebrities have been championing the “pop of red” styling trick recently, using it to inject a hit of colour into an otherwise muted ensemble. They’ll have plenty of options to choose from next season, thanks to Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Valentino.
The mini me
Size-wise, this was a season of extremes, and the likes of Fendi, Givenchy, Gucci and Versace all had bags smaller than the average iPhone. At Chanel, a top-handle purse was so minuscule it would struggle to house a single pound coin.
Top up on texture
The concept of basket bags for spring is not groundbreaking, but woven accessories were more prevalent than ever in the spring/summer 2024 collections. The theme encompassed everything from structured basket bags to totes with a rope-like construction to touchable loose knit textures.
Handbags came with lots of hiding places for spring/summer 2024 – the bags at Fendi, Simone Rocha and 3.1 Phillip Lim had much in common with a pair of cargo trousers. The practical effect was given a sleeker spin at Ferragamo and Max Mara, where the accessories came with thin, zippered compartments. The only challenge is, it might make it a little harder to locate your car keys.
The not-really-a-clutch clutch
Chiropractors, look away now. Carrying your laptop and make-up bag under one arm isn’t going to do much for your posture, but it’s now a desirable look thanks to the spring/summer 2024 runways. At Ferragamo, The Row and Tod’s (among others), roomy everyday bags were hooked into the elbow, showing it’s sometimes not so much about the bag, as how you hold it.
In the round
Spherical bags were big for autumn/winter 2023, and the same was true in the spring/summer 2024 collections, with scooped shoulder bags appearing at Isabel Marant and Hermès, and more compact circles at Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton.
Everything but the kitchen sink
As mentioned, this was a season of extremes, and juxtaposed with those micro bags were totes so colossal they’ll inevitably invite questions about where it is you’re heading off to. Ferragamo, The Row, Prada and Victoria Beckham all showed takes on the fits-your-whole-life-in carry-on – extra fashion points for shoving the whole thing under your arm.
This article was originally published on Vogue UK.