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The National - News - Luxury - - CONTENTS - By Hafsa Lodi

Trac­ing the evo­lu­tion of the hum­ble bum­bag

A laven­der-toned purse topped with sparkling brooches was wrapped around the waist of a hand-em­bel­lished Elie Saab dress on the Haute Cou­ture Week cat­walk in Paris last year. Karl Lager­feld also in­cor­po­rated skinny belts topped with rec­tan­gu­lar pouches, no doubt in­spired by bum­bags, in his haute cou­ture looks for Chanel. That’s right – bum­bags. This typ­i­cally un­fash­ion­able ac­ces­sory has been given an ex­trav­a­gant makeover, with mul­ti­ple fash­ion houses such as Gucci, Prada and Moschino all de­liv­er­ing lux­ury ren­di­tions. And, sur­pris­ingly, they’re sell­ing like hot cakes.

The ac­ces­sory was likely in­spired by early Na­tive Amer­i­cans, who wore buf­falo pouches around their waists, or by Euro­pean lords in the medieval ages, who stored their weapons in pouches at­tached to their belts. In terms of con­tem­po­rary fash­ion, the bum­bag has never been deemed as par­tic­u­larly cov­etable – un­til now, that is.

Tra­di­tion­ally of­fered in a slouchy, in­verted-trapeze shape, and fit­ted with zip­pers and a can­vas strap with a buckle, the bum­bag went main­stream in the 1980s. Cra ed from neo­prene and vinyl tex­tiles, it was a con­ve­nient, util­i­tar­ian and hands-free al­ter­na­tive to a bulky bag. But it seemed fated to re­main in the realm of the un­stylish, and by the 1990s, it had be­come sym­bolic of out-of-place tourists, di­shev­elled jog­gers and flus­tered moth­er­son-the go. While all in­di­ca­tors sug­gested that the bum­bag had made a hasty (and wel­come) re­treat into fash­ion his­tory, over the past few sea­sons, in­ter­na­tional brands – Ital­ian, Parisian and Mid­dle Eastern – have shown an ea­ger­ness to re­vive it.

There have been bum­bags in glossy jewel tones at Em­po­rio Ar­mani, over­sized pouches but­toned onto wide belts at Marni, min­i­mal­ist drawstring de­signs at Cé­line, and leather en­ve­lope styles dan­gling off belts at Stella McCart­ney. Dubai-based la­bel Bouguessa, which spe­cialises in shirt-dresses and abayas, re­cently adorned its tu­nics and trenches with self-ty­ing belts, with re­mov­able, over­sized pouches at­tached. Like­wise, lace gowns cre­ated by Madiyah Al Sharqi for sum­mer 2017 fea­tured match­ing pastel­hued bum­bags.

How­ever, if you re­ally want to wit­ness the new-found star­dom of the bum­bag, ob­serve the en­sem­bles of fash­ion week ticket-hold­ers, and you will spot the ac­ces­sory, adorned with de­signer lo­gos and em­blems, around the waists of high-pro­file fash­ion edi­tors, de­sign­ers and in­flu­encers. As a mat­ter of fact, the cool new way to wear it is slung over one shoul­der, à la Louis Vuit­ton’s 2017 and 2018 menswear of­fer­ing. So, men too are at risk of suc­cumb­ing to the craze – new Her­mès, Lan­vin and Gucci col­lec­tions for men all in­clude bum­bags.

Some style-con­scious con­sumers are man­ag­ing to adopt this trend with­out ac­tu­ally splurg­ing on a de­signer bum­bag. In­stead, they’re sim­ply dou­bling up the shoul­der straps of their lux­ury Fendi or Mul­berry hand­bags, and wrap­ping them around their waists in a lay­ered fash­ion, to em­u­late the ap­pear­ance of a bum­bag. It’s a clever way to cheat the sys­tem and still sport the trend. A er all, Gucci’s turquoise-coloured bum­bag in quilted vel­vet may well be­come a fash­ion sta­ple this au­tumn. But will you feel con­fi­dent enough to fas­ten it around your waist three years from now? Per­haps not.

THROUGH THE AGES Clock­wise from top, the bum­bag has come a long way since the 1990s; Marni’s spring/sum­mer 2017 col­lec­tion fea­tured large belted bum­bags; a mono­chrome it­er­a­tion by Dubai-based brand Bouguessa

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