Like your favorite pair of jeans in the dryer, the window of opportunity for climate action, or the average person over the age of 70—tiny bags are shrinking.
The trend, which started with the Jacquemus “Chiquito” in spring 2018 and reached its zenith when Lizzo pinched the strap of a Valentino bag the size of a box of Tic Tacs between her bedazzled fingernails at the American Music Awards in November, has entered a new phase.
On some fall 2020 runways, the bags were so small and delicate they could be suspended from necks, wrapped around wrists or otherwise dangled from the body. In other words: tiny bags have now crossed the accessory-jewelry threshold.
At Prada, silk and metal minaudières no larger than a stack of Post-It notes were affixed to watch straps and clipped onto braided ropes. At Givenchy, one model wore what looked like a doll’s binocular case on a lanyard. Rachel Comey put a turquoise-encrusted brass satchel on a short, chunky chain.
At both Fendi and Alexander McQueen, the line between bag and charm was blurred: The belt on a leather Fendi trench coat worn by Bella Hadid was festooned with little gold and leather pouches, like pendants for the waist, and McQueen designer Sarah Burton put flask-shaped containers on chokers and harnesses. At Chanel, Virginie Viard replaced one purse’s traditional chain strap with a string of pearls.
It’s not the first time designers have blurred these lines. Evening bags have doubled as jewelry since Judith Leiber first laid eyes on a Swarovski crystal, and when Jacquemus debuted the diminutive “petit chiquito” on the spring 2020 runway, some models wore them slung around their necks. But the effect wasn’t quite the same: This season’s version feels less like a runway gimmick and more like a new category altogether.
This change in categorization also means a shift in the discourse. Whereas bags are judged on a practicality scale—form must follow function—jewelry is almost always pure decoration, its purpose symbolic if anything. Which means the question is no longer, “What will I have to leave at home if this is my purse for the day?” but “What can I add, now that I have this cool, new hands-free compartment?”
The possibilities are small in dimension but potentially endless in scope: You can now have extra, dedicated space for your Airpods, a week’s worth of multivitamins, a couple of emergency hair ties, a sample vial of perfume, a spare thong in case of an unexpected sleepover, the key to your mailbox or a tube of lip balm.
A necklace-bag is like a dress with pockets: It’s nice to have the option, even if you probably won’t put anything in there. It’s a delightful surprise, something to show off to your friends with a semi-ironic squeal. And, most importantly, it won’t look weird if you also carry a normal-size purse.