When one thinks of Balenciaga, almost instantly the City bag pops into your head. A classic piece from the brand, the City bag is one of the most significant handbags of the past decade. It's hard to imagine Balenciaga without their signature accessory, however icons aren't born icons - and in the beginning the City bag sure wasn't one. Let's take a trip down memory lane and see where it all began.
Under the creative direction of Nicholas Ghesquière, now currently creative director of Louis Vuitton, the first design for the Balenciaga City bag was created in 2000. Originally known as the Motorcycle bag, the company dismissed Ghesquière's work - claiming it was too soft and lacked structure. Completely opposed to the current It-bags of the time, Ghesquière abandoned his two prototypes at his studio.
It wasn't until Kate Moss walked into the Balenziaga studio for a fitting that the company actually paid attention to the Motorcycle prototype. Kate, along with several other models, raved about the bag.
"Every girl who was walking [the show], including Kate [Moss] came in and was like, 'what is that? Is it vintage? Is it something that you found at the flea market?' I was like 'no it's a handbag that we prototyped but just didn't produce.' We didn't produce it because I think when I showed the prototype to the people who asked me to do it, they weren't happy with it," said Nicholas Ghesquière on August 15, 2011 to WWD Accessory magazine when discussing Balenciaga's 2011 runway show.
So long story short, if Kate Moss is obsessed with something, no one else's opinion really matters. Ghesquière managed to convince the corporates to manufacture 25 more bags for him to give to some of his favourite models, obviously including Kate, as well as a few editors and friends.
Word spread fast regarding Balenciaga's new bag seen on the arms of important fashion insiders and shortly, everyone wanted one. The first season of the Motorcycle bag was released to the world in brown and black, featuring a front zip pocket, long tassels on the zippers, round flat-brass studs and square buckles. The slouchy, lightweight bag was edgy, modern and ideal for the contemporary It-Girl. In Spring / Summer 2002, the second season was released. This time, the Motorcycle bag featured a new addition; a leather-bound mirror attached to a leather tassel was tied onto the bag and tucked into the front pocket. Carefully crafted in pebbled caribou leather, smooth nappa leather and smooth crinkled goatskin leather, the Motorcycle bag flourished. By the third season of Motorcycle bags, Balenciaga released several new colours and fabrics. The debut of Balenciaga's now signature glossy, distressed goatskin leather - then called the "Moto-Tough Arena." The brand also introduced "Monk" leather, a thick, waxed distressed leather with pewter hardware as opposed to brass. Finally, a suede version was introduced.
More than a decade later, the Motorcycle is now the City, and it thrives to this day. One of the most successful bags of all time, the City bag now ranges in three different sizes; the Mini Classic (6.25' x 9.5'), the Small Classic (7.5' x 11.5') and the Classic (10' x 15'). Although no longer available in brass hardware, gold-tone and silver-tone hardware are offered instead. Over the years, the Balenciaga City has seen numerous seasonal versions and released in countless different colours.
A bag that will never go out of style, the City is the perfect addition to any luxury handbag collection. Timeless, classic and stylish, the City is a true investment piece that you won't regret purchasing. All thanks to Kate Moss, this bag comes with an interesting story and is a real must-have. Cheers Kate!
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By: Isabel de Carteret