For almost everyone, I think Balenciaga is one of those brands that you either understand or you don’t. Yes – they make more or less the same bags in different colors year after year. Yes – many of them haven’t changed drastically in design since they were first introduced. Yes – many people are happy to do what basically amounts to buying the same bag in a bunch of colors. And some people may think that’s nuts, but I think it’s AWESOME. I love Balenciaga, and anyone that’s familiar with the Balenciaga section on the Forum knows that the Bal girls get in to the details of their bags in a way that few other brand’s customers do. Leather texture and hardware are discussed heavily, even though the differences may not be huge to the casual observer. As a result, when one thing changes about how Balenciaga builds their bags, tongues are set wagging about it for months, if not years.
One of the most controversial things that Balenciaga has done was introduce “giant” hardware – I believe that came in 2007. The formerly tiny and dull (and by dull I mean non-shiny, not boring) hardware was now offered in oversized, polished silver and gold versions. Some people wept. “Too blingy,” they said, “It doesn’t go with the Balenciaga aesthetic.” I, on the other hand, rejoiced. Well, I rejoiced for the silver, the gold I still disliked. I had always loved the bags, but felt that maybe they needed a little extra pop, and the big, silver, thimble-like hardware was just what I was looking for to reinvigorate them in my mind. Juxtaposed with Balenciaga’s signature colored leather, the silver seemed to emphasize the beautiful dyes and bright hues that distinguish the brand from other manufacturers.
Several season later, giant hardware appears to be sticking around, at least in silver. I couldn’t be happier, and I know that some of the people who initially scoffed at the idea have come around to the style. If you’ve never seen these bags in person, I’d recommend that you try to in the near future; Balenciaga is more widely carried than it used to be, and the giant hardware makes a lot of proportional sense on some of their larger bags (I’m a huge fan of it on anything larger than a Day). So if you dismissed it initially, now that some time has gone by and we know it’s not just a fad, maybe think about revisiting it. I think it’s stood the style test over the past few seasons and is worth another look by all you handbag enthusiasts.