I am a bag hag if ever there was one. Well, I wasn’t always a hag; I was young once, but I was always one for bags, and my enthusiasm for bags started when I was very young.
There is a photograph of me taken at the Botanic Gardens in the very early ’70s. I must have been no more than two or three years old and trussed up in a flouncy three-tier spaghetti-strap a-go-go frock, Jackie O-inspired sunnies, Mary Janes, white ankle socks, and arm candy in the form of a wristlet bag shaped like a Chinese takeout box.
My mum — bless her stylist-wannabe heart — was fond of dressing me up. I am the younger of her two children, the daughter who was born to her and my father fairly late in their life. She was the only mother in our extended family of in-laws, aunts, uncles and cousins, and found tremendous joy in outfitting her little girl from top to toe.
I would frequently be gifted with bejewelled hairbands and hats, fancy hairpins and even feather-boa hair ties. My mum could be OTT like that. No half measures for her when it came to pulling off an ensemble.
But for all the elaborate dresses, baby bangles, rings and little-girl wedges, I remember with the greatest fondness the bags that she completed my tiny outfits with.
In my mind resides a vague memory of one of my aunts getting married — I remembered how beautiful she looked, and how glamorous the ballroom of the Cockpit Hotel was. But most of all, I remembered how awesome the faux leather box bag that I carried to the celebrations was.
Another childhood accessory that was a favourite of mine was a Disney purse fashioned like a flight attendant’s makeup carrier, which I loved pairing with a floral 1970s maxi I wore to shreds.
Sometimes, when Mum was at work, I would climb into her wardrobe and admire her chain mail Oroton and beaded silk evening clutches.
I did not realise how formative those years were, until now, when I’m compelled to analyse my purse attachments and bag leanings. One look at my collection would lead many to write it off as classic, with a side of retro. But I really prefer iconic and statement-making, with unexpected sprinkles of vintage. And guess what? Most of my bags do come with top handles! Even the slings are not spared — I love adjusting them just so I can use the straps like top handles.
There are the mainstays from Chanel: Classic quilted flaps in oxblood (large) and black (jumbo), both with silver hardware, and a 2.55 in black with gold hardware (jumbo). Then come a pre-loved 25-inch Kelly; a scarf-print Gucci bamboo; a roomy Saint Laurent Y tote, and a Fendi baguette.
If more was merrier, my three Balenciagas (in varying sizes and hues but all from the iconic City range); several Pradas (the one in granny frame is a particular fave); and a Dior saddlebag and Malice, both in denim, made me a happy lady. And how could I forget my multicoloured, sequin-encrusted Irregular Choice granny frame sling, with an outstanding bunny appliqué and white cotton bobtail?
I like to consider my pieces wearable collectibles, all of which will see me through to my silver-haired and golden years.
My bag wardrobe, which really is the better part of a spare room in my tiny apartment, is full, but bagaholism remission or not, I know I can always tidy up and make room for a few more.
If space permits, my list would include the ubiquitous Gucci Bamboo butterfly and bug bag, for its timeless sense of wonder; a Balenciaga red-and-green Collage Double for its roomy proportions and smart appearance. Last but not least, the Fendi Runaway, because I have a serious penchant for structure, all thanks to that Chinese takeout wristlet from decades ago.
Back to Mum — whose collection of bags grew as she evolved from mother to grandmother. Before she passed on recently as an octogenarian, she was the proud owner of countless Coach totes and crossbody bags, which allowed her to move about hands-free, so she could stroll about regally with her walking stick. Looking at the way she amassed these accessories, I guess you could say that bag addiction is in my genes.