Kim Kardashian and her baby bump were recently spotted clad in all black and Balenciaga at LAX after getting off a return flight from Atlanta. Her bag is a black suede Balenciaga Baby Daim City Bag, and her black gladiator sandals are the Givenchy Embossed Rubber Grommet Sandals. While we couldn’t find this exact City bag online, the Balenciaga Baby Daim Classic Velo is available in the same color and material as Kim’s for $1,545 at Barneys. You can also buy Kim’s sandals at Barneys for $280, which seems like a bargain for anything Givenchy, though we have to reiterate that these shoes are made of rubber.

Kim K. has been wearing a ton of black and Givenchy since she hooked up with Kanye West – likely at his behest, of course. Personally, I kind of miss the bright colors and excessive boobage of Kim’s pre-Kanye wardrobe. Am I alone here?

When we discussed the possibilities of Alexander Wang’s handbags for Balenciaga back when the young American designer was named to replace Nicolas Ghesquiere as the head of the brand, most of you were not particularly optimistic about Wang would do, particularly compared to the genius of his predecessor. After all, precious few brands can boast a line that’s been as successful as the Balenciaga Motorcycle Bags, which were Ghesquiere’s brainchild. As it turns out, though, Wang’s Balenciaga Fall 2013 Handbags show some promise, as did the entire collection.

Wang’s always had a good sense of what women want to carry – handbags have long been one of, if not the, most successful parts of his eponymous brand – and the handful of petite, highly structured bags that appeared on the runway showed a good deal of maturity and a good grasp of what’s been going on with Balenciaga up to this point. The angular, fluid closure hardware was also mirrored in cuffs and boots, and with the addition of a long, slender shoulder or crossbody strap, I could see these bags being carried and coveted by plenty of fashion folks. A smart, slightly conservative outing – just what Alexander Wang needed.

[Images via Vogue]

Balenciaga Fall 2013 Handbags (1) Balenciaga Fall 2013 Handbags (2) Balenciaga Fall 2013 Handbags (3) Balenciaga Fall 2013 Handbags (4) Balenciaga Fall 2013 Handbags (5) Balenciaga Fall 2013 Handbags (6)

Balenciaga introduces a new shape in its celeb-favorite Motorcycle Bags every couple of seasons, but I can’t remember the last time a new Bal excited me as much as the Balenciaga Mini City Bag. Spring’s just around the corner (that sounds like a lie, but it isn’t we promise), which means we’re all looking for a bright little bag to carry our warm-weather essentials, and this new crossbody model might be just the ticket.

This bag was first released as an Asian exclusive over the summer, but now we all get to delight in the miniaturized version of the Balenciaga classic. Naturally, our first question was how the new bag differs from its big sister in size. We found the helpful comparison image below on our Forum, and the new bag is listed as 9.5 inches wide by 6.25 inches tall, while the original measures 15 inches wide and 10 inches tall. That means that the proportions of the two bags are approximately the same, making the new version a true “mini.”

Balenciaga Mini City Bag Size Comparison

The new Mini City is the smallest of Balenciaga’s current major bag offerings, clocking in at a slightly smaller size (and slightly different proportion) than the Balenciaga First (which, in turn, is slightly smaller than the Balenciaga Town, and so forth.) Perhaps the most exciting development is the inclusion of a crossbody strap, which most older Balenciaga styles don’t have and which allows for a more modern, casual style of wear. The new bag can be had for $1,295 via Barneys in the sunshine yellow color below, or for the same price via MyTheresa in the coral pictured above.

Balenciaga Mini City Bag (1)

Here’s a well-bundled, blizzard-proof Kyra Sedgwick, carrying a classic Balenciaga City Bag on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This bag is available in a whopping 9 different colors for $1,545 at Neiman Marcus. Just a reminder to the general populous, while we’re at it – as we reported two months ago, Balenciaga’s rose gold hardware bags are being phased out, so snatch those up while you still can!

Balenciagas are great and all, but I’m more distracted by the cookie Kyra’s carrying, because I suspect that it may be from Levain Bakery, which is near the Fairway in the UWS and, according to common NYC lore, has the best chocolate chip cookies EVER. Great, now I really want a cookie.

Balenciaga has been in the news lately for a lot of reasons – first, the departure of creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere, then rumors of his successor, and then the installation of Alexander Wang as the brand’s next leader. We’ve got some more bag-specific news, though, and you may want to read carefully if you’re thinking about buying a Balenciaga bag with rose gold hardware – it’s about to ride off into the sunset. On the other hand, if you’ve been pining for the regular gold of yesteryear, you may be in luck.

On Neiman Marcus’ blog NMDaily, Sarah Bray writes that come Spring 2013 bags, Balenciaga will cease to offer the rose gold hardware that’s become so popular in recent seasons. In its place, bright gold will come back for the foreseeable future. (In Balenciaga hardware terms, that usually means the next two years or so, but who knows with Wang’s advent?) Personally, I’m sad to see the rose gold go – the bright gold of the past felt gaudy to me, and the subtle color of its rose counterpart always felt more appropriate on the Balenciaga aesthetic. No word on how hardware sizes will be affected – if you know more, let us know in the comments.

Want to stock up on rose gold before it disappears? Neiman Marcus has a huge selection of leather colors and bag styles available with the soon-to-be-gone hardware color, but our favorite is the basic black above.

Even though the news that Alexander Wang is the next creative director at Balenciaga has had the weekend to sink in, it doesn’t feel quite like reality. Wang rose to fame mostly on the wearability and relatively accessible price point of his downtown-cool sportswear and handbags, while Balenciaga’s departed designer/genius Nicolas Ghesquiere earned a reputation for industry-leading innovation, exceptional technical skill and an embrace of fashion’s intellectual side. (Oh, and a decade-plus of Motorcycle Bag success didn’t hurt, either.) The two have seemingly little to do with each other.

To me, Wang seemed (and to a certain extent, still seems) like an inappropriate choice to fill Ghesquiere’s shoes; the two men are completely different brand leaders in both aesthetic and approach. It seems like giving Wang the nod indicates that PPR wishes to take the French house in a more consumer-friendly direction; after all, Wang has proved himself an expert at figuring out exactly what luxury customers want to buy, which can be a weakness of designers who are more focused on abstract ideas and exacting execution. Finding both those qualities in one designer is rare, to say the least.

The more I’ve thought about it, though, the more the two designers’ aesthetics seem to converge in an area that’s not only very important to those of us at this site, but to the overall financial health of almost any fashion brand: handbags. I’ve bought and carried multiple bags from both brands, and although I hadn’t really thought about it before this news emerged, the two are not all that different.

Both Wang and Balenciaga do most of their accessories business by selling slouchy leather bags with tough, industrial-inspired hardware. The bags from both lines are then reissued in new colors and hardwares every season; the most successful designs have their shapes tweaked a bit in later seasons to provide consumers multiple options. Most brands incorporate a few of those techniques into their accessories strategies, but the similarities are more numerous than you’d expect when you look at the bag lines side-by-side, particularly considering how divergent the rest of the two brands are.

On top of that, Balenciaga and Wang’s seasonal bags have begun to share aesthetic similarities in recent seasons. Wang’s Pelican line from Fall 2012, for example, has the taut leather and clean edges that characterize many of Balenciaga’s recent non-Motorcyle bags. Both of those moves may be attributable to larger accessories trends, but they’re notable because, improbably, both brands now have their accessories collections structured the same way – a foundation of casual, easy shoulder bags and satchels with edgy hardware, combined with seasonal lines of tight, modern totes and satchels.

Ultimately, that should help Balenciaga bag lovers breathe a small sigh of relief. The Motorcycle bags, with their seemingly endless popularity, are likely going nowhere, at least in the immediate future. Not only would it be a bad business move to end the line right now, but it the bags likely won’t be contrary to Wang’s aesthetic vision at Balenciaga; after all, they’re pretty much in sync with it already.

What are your feelings on Alexander Wang’s move to Balenciaga? What do you think the link will be like?

As reality settles in and we face the fact that Nicolas Ghesquiere and Balenciaga have decided to part ways, we continue to mourn in the only way now: by celebrating the legendary handbags that Ghesquiere created for Balenciaga. The longevity of the Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag, in all its incarnations, is astounding; the design debuted in 2001 and ever since, it’s been toting in a zillion different forms by everyone from the world’s most prominent fashion editors to a full half of the PurseBlog company staff. (That’s me, Megs and Hilary, for those of you who are counting.)

I’ve owned four Balenciaga bags over the years, and they’re what fueled my initial foray into the world of premiere designer handbags in the first place. I became aware of them largely because of the design’s huge celebrity following; when I was in college, you couldn’t find a starlet without one. To this day, it seems as though practically every woman in Hollywood has a Balenciaga somewhere in her regular rotation. Doubt it? We’d like to offer a bevy of proof, which you’ll find below.

With the surprising news yesterday morning that Balenciaga would be parting ways with Nicholas Ghesquiere, its creative director for 15 years and a man widely considered to be among the most talented (if not the most talented) designers in the entire industry, it seemed only fair that we look back on Ghesquiere’s inimitable legacy at the French house. Ghesquiere’s influence on the entirety of fashion is undeniable (the Balenciaga Did It First Tumblr is a pretty damning roundup of how other major designers have borrowed, both subtly and not-so-subtly, from Ghesquiere’s body of work), but naturally, our loyalties lie with his brilliant handbags.

The Balenciaga Motorcycle Bags, then known as the Balenciaga Le Dix, made their runway debut in 2001 at the urging of models in the brand’s show, who loved Nicolas’ first bag design for the brand. Balenciaga’s corporate leaders weren’t so convinced, but the bags debuted anyway and a star was born. Since then, those first bags (known as the Flat Brass bags because of – you guessed it – their flat studded hardware) have been turned into dozens on top of dozens of shapes, colors, materials and prints and created a huge windfall for a designer whose challenging, forward-thinking ready-to-wear creations tend to be a bit of a hard sell to the average fashion customer. Below, revisit some of Ghesquire’s greatest handbag triumphs from his incredible stint at Balenciaga. If we left out your favorite bag, let us know in the comments.

In case you hadn’t heard, Grace Coddington, the unsung hero of Vogue herself, is also the world’s most elegant cat lady. Step aside, Choupette Lagerfeld – Pumpkin Coddington is fashion’s new favorite cat, and he’s being feted by a capsule accessories collection from Balenciaga, in collaboration with his fabulous owner. For a pet, it hardly gets more fashionable or luxurious.

The Grace Coddington for Balenciaga Pumpkin Collection will launch on Fashion’s Night Out, and it’ll include the Balenciaga Pumpkin Paper Tote, $1000, seen above. The bag, which also comes in ecru canvas in addition to this shade of, well, pumpkin, features Coddington’s drawings of her cat wearing seminal Balenciaga runway looks from the past 10 years. A silk twill scarf, $395, and a fringed wool and silk scarf, $495, will also be made in the print. These pieces are quirk for a good cause, though – 20% of proceeds will go to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. I can’t help it, I think the bag is kind of cute, particularly since the funds will go toward helping animals. What do you think?

The name Balenciaga is synonymous with the brand’s highly coveted Motorcycle bags. That can’t be what Balenciaga had in mind as the brand’s modern iteration grew; along with the motorcycle bags, the brand designs ready-to-wear, many other handbags, shoes, and accessories, almost all of which are overshadowed by the omnipresent bags. Most of my research for Balenciaga involves seeing the new season colors as they are released.

But while I perused the Balenciaga website, I ran into a new handbag recently added to the brand’s collection, the Balenciaga Tube S. This bag has a different aesthetic, a touch more refined with its lines and design. In fact, there is a bit of a Givenchy feel, and that dear readers is a great thing – as we believe Givenchy is about to have the next big handbag moment. (more…)

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