Ap­ply­ing patches to posh purses taps into our punk­ish de­sire for in­di­vid­u­al­ity.

Fashion (Canada) - - CONTENTS - By Is­abel B. Slone

Patches add a pun­k­like flair to high-end hand­bags.

Clau­dia McNeilly got her Louis Vuit­ton Nev­er­full as a gift, but there was some­thing about the de­signer car­ryall that made the 25-year-old food writer feel self-con­scious. The iconic mono­gram was too pop­u­lar for her taste. Cre­ative by na­ture, she slapped some em­broi­dered patches onto the bag: a Casper the Friendly Ghost one with “Ready to Die” on it and another with the word “Han­gry” writ­ten in spi­dery heavy-me­tal script. McNeilly didn’t feel like she was ru­in­ing the bag; she was ex­cited to be cus­tomiz­ing it “into some­thing a lit­tle more orig­i­nal.” In the past, mar­i­juana leaves and Grate­ful Dead danc­ing bears were stitched onto hemp mes­sen­ger bags, but now fashion-for­ward patches are land­ing on the kind of purses you hear about in a Kreayshawn cho­rus: Gucci, Louis Vuit­ton and Fendi. In­ten­tion­ally mar­ring one’s pricey purse may seem scan­dalously in­dul­gent—and it is—but it also re­flects the value the fashion world places on self-ex­pres­sion. Each patched-up look has an inim­itable qual­ity; no mat­ter how wide the trend spreads, ev­ery­one still ends up with a unique bag. When Alessan­dro Michele re­vamped the Gucci aes­thetic from glam to granny chic, he took his vin­tagein­spired Diony­sus logo bag and stamped it with flow­ers, but­ter­flies and snakes. The brand later in­tro­duced a ser­vice where peo­ple could cus­tom­ize their own bags, and, most re­cently, Gucci’s Spring 2018 col­lec­tion fea­tured a vin­tage-in­spired tote em­bla­zoned with a gi­ant fluffy poo­dle patch. Coach has re­leased bags and coats that fea­ture vin­tage NASA-in­spired patches as well as the new in-store Coachify ex­pe­ri­ence. If you’re not in­ter­ested in patches, artists like Ser­viced by E will paint a por­trait of Mickey Mouse, Garfield or Poké­mon on your card­holder for $635. Ge­or­gia-based Michele Ma Belle takes vin­tage Vuit­ton and Gucci bags and trans­forms them into Western fringed won­ders with charms and tas­sels. This counter-cul­tural patch re­vival is pop­u­lar now, but the trend is rem­i­nis­cent of ’70s punk. In case you didn’t grow up lis­ten­ing to The Clash, plas­ter­ing patches on a de­signer bag is ba­si­cally the

bougie ver­sion of a “bat­tle jacket”—the term for those cut-off weather-beaten leather or denim jack­ets cus­tom­ized with studs, crack­ing paint, silkscreened patches and safety pins. These patch-en­crusted husks re­main one of the most en­dur­ing vis­ual sym­bols of the punk move­ment.

Los An­ge­les-based cos­tume de­signer Ali­son Freer, 46, has gone to great lengths to en­sure that her pricey bags are per­fectly im­per­fect. “I love de­signer bags, in the­ory,” she says, adding, “They do seem a lit­tle pre­cious, which is the op­po­site of my per­son­al­ity.” To give her bags a bit of an edge, Freer has per­son­al­ized them with spray paint and patches. She even put one through a wash­ing ma­chine cy­cle. She says her Franken-bag cre­ations—which she af­fec­tion­ately calls her “trash­ball hand­bags”—dial back a bag’s lux­ury vibe. “I carry them ev­ery time I’m wear­ing some­thing I think is too prissy,” she says.

When Vir­ginia Cham­lee, 32, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sional from Jack­sonville, Fla., no­ticed the patch trend hap­pen­ing on the run­way, she re­trieved a Louis Vuit­ton Speedy bag that was at the bot­tom of her closet and started ap­ply­ing new and vin­tage patches she had found on­line or col­lected while rum­mag­ing through an­tique stores and garage sales. The bag, which was a hand-me-down from her grand­mother, was in rough shape. Cham­lee cov­ered the holes and blem­ishes with patches and sud­denly it was stylishly street-worthy.

If slap­ping grungy patches on a purse that cost more than a month’s rent sounds like an act of teen re­bel­lion, Freer is the first to ad­mit she fits the bill: “I’m for­ever 18, try­ing to hor­rify my mother.” Os­ten­ta­tious purses tend to tele­graph wealth, but the patches change the mes­sage.

McNeilly, mean­while, gets a kick out of the con­de­scend­ing looks her bag some­times draws. “Ev­ery­one is very sur­prised that I would dare graf­fiti a $1,000 bag,” she says. “It’s kind of fun when some­body gets worked up or is a lit­tle bit of­fended.” Be­sides, what could be more punk rock than that?


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