Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Some things cannot be separated

We were talking about my vintage Gucci bags. 

Some collectors find it hard to remember the things they collect are just things. I'm one of those collectors, the person who assigns genders and personalities to all inanimate objects. I learnt this from my mother who, when I was growing up, anthropomorphised everything in our home from teaspoons to the clothesline. Tablecloths had personalities, books felt pain, the iron had emotions. Everything we used had a heart. 

Not surprisingly, all my bags have genders and personalities. Some are even related, like this pair of Guccis I found at a garage sale. 

They are, according to the woman who sold them to me, from the early nineties. She bought them in Europe but didn't seem to be attached to them. I wondered why she chose them in the first place, they being plain and practical while she was bright and sparkly and wearing audible prints.  She offered me a great price for both. They looked to be in great condition - on the outside at any rate. Their bellies were another story: the lining was sticky, crumbly and rendered them both unusable. If you've ever dealt with a bag with rotting lining, you'd know that it sticks to everything it comes in contact with. 

I fancied the tan one particularly, but couldn't buy one and leave the other behind. They'd never been separated. So they both came home with me, and both were sent to Eli in the Strand Arcade in Sydney who is a bag surgeon. A specialist, even. He can repair even the most hopeless case. Eli replaced the lining in both these bags, and even stitched their identities back in place. 

In this photo you can see four important things: that the lining is restored, that the label and zip is maintained, the marks the rotting leather left on the label and that I keep my bags stuffed with tissue. 

You should stuff your bags with light paper. This keeps the lining dry and  helps the bag maintain it's shape. 

I've photographed the hardware too. I check this routinely when I buy any bag. If you like labels, it's these kinds of details that will help you discern fakes when you buy at second hand fairs and the like. 

Note that the bag is stitched - not glued. Note, too, the stamps in the hardware. This is expensive and labourious. Fake bags won't have such fine detail. They may imitate it with prints but they won't go to the expense and trouble of reproducing it. 

I especially love the tan bag. It is a magic bag, one that looks like it will hold your wallet, phone and maybe a book but it is actually a bottomless pit. I have twice used it as a day bag when travelling and in addition to the named essentials Tan Bag can fit a bottle of water, chap sticks, emergency liquorice, four pens, a guide book, a hankie, sunglasses and a scarf in there. The strap's nice and long too. 

Best of all, it is a very unassuming bag. It fits in with all your plans whether you're wearing a dress and tights or jeans and thongs. The blue bag is a little more choosy and prefers a floral theme. Odd, too, that while it has almost identical dimensions to it's tan sibling, it doesn't hold nearly as much. 

They may be related but they have very different personalities.