Lizzo caught everyone’s attention at this year’s American Music Awards (AMAs) when she walked the red carpet with atiny Valentino bag. It was so small that it looked like a padlock and Lizzo had to hold it between her thumb and index finger.
If you’ve been keeping track of fashion trends, you’ll know that micro mini bags are having a moment since last year. It was popularized by Jacquemus, which created the mini top-handle purse called the Le Sac Chiquito. This was carried by Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, andDua Lipa.
During Jacquemus’ fall/winter 2019 presentation, he debuted theMini Le Chiquito which was two inches in height and had an equally tiny invitation inside. It was so small, guests had to read it with a magnifying glass.
This recent onslaught of micro mini bags got us thinking: When and how did bags get this small?
We looked back at its history and found some interesting facts. Keep reading to find out how they’ve changed throughout the years.
Late 18th century: Unisex purses
Back then, purses were meant for carrying money only.JStor Daily describes them as more common with wallets than handbags, which made it a generally unisex accessory in the late 18th century. Women also didn’t need large bags back then because they had roomy pockets for other items. (Jealous!)
One notable purse was seen at the court of Versailles, which were “round-bottomed drawstring bags—often made of velvet and intricately embroidered with the owner’s coat of arms.” These usually carried money for charitable donations (as well as cash people won from gambling)
Meanwhile, larger purses also existed but they were mostly used for transporting sewing tools and materials.
French Revolution of 1789 until the 19th century: Reticules
A reticule was a type of small purses made mainly of netting; they usually had a fringe design. This was meant as an evening wear accessory during the French Revolution and was said to have been created when pockets were changed in women’s ensembles. According to aJStor study, women carried this ornamental bag with each gown and it was usually strapped to their waist or carried by hand.
Reticules would last until the 19th century, with historical accounts reporting sightings of this purse in the US and London.
1800 to 1810: Pineapple reticule
The Dreamstress explains that Joséphine de Beauharnais was responsible for the pineapple reticule trend. It’s said that she knitted this bag with fruits in her home country of Martinique as the main inspiration. This became a symbol of “ultimate exoticism and luxury in European arts and fashion.”
1900s to 1920s: Smaller bags for the rich, bigger bags for the working class
Bet you didn’t expect this to get political, huh?CR Fashion Book noted that the rich during the 1900s mostly carried reticules while working class were seen carrying larger shopper bags. This created the notion that smaller bags are now ornamental status symbols, not just functional accessories.
You’d be surprised to know that this idea still exists today, but we’ll talk about that later in the article.
Let’s take a huge leap in time and appreciate the Hermès Birkin. The bag was designed forJane Birkin, who spilled all her belongings from her straw tote on a flight. Jean-Louis Dumas was in the same flight and thought of creating a catchall bag that can hold a woman’s essentials. The Birkin eventually became an “It” bag, ending the era of small purses for a time.
2000s and beyond: Getting smaller and smaller
Well-known fashion brands and houses like Givenchy, Coach, and Marc Jacobs have created their versions of small bags. These ranged from pouches strapped on the models’ wrists to having multiple bag pockets attached to one strap.
The most noticeable mini bags though were the ones carried by royals, like Duchesses Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. CR Fashion Book noted that most royals back in the day didn’t carry purses that were bigger than her hands—again, the smaller the bags were, the higher your status. Which is why there’s a popular belief that Middleton and Markle don’t have anything in their bags.
This then brings us to the micro-mini bags of Jacquemus. We can only guess what can fit inside the Le Sac Chiquito and Mini Le Chiquito. But unlike the Birkin era, people are now less concerned with filling up their bags with all their essentials. What is clear though is that celebrities are into these micro mini bags, which strengthens the possibility that there are other people carrying their stuff for them.