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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Men’s bags don’t vary all that much, although they’re starting to vary a little bit more, so seeing something like the Balenciaga Creased Leather Pouch always makes me a bit confused. This bag was in the new arrivals at Mr. Porter alongside what can only be described as a Jil Sander Black Leather Lunch Bag which had completely sold out, so it’s undeniable that there’s a market for what is essentially a men’s clutch.

Generally I love anything that Balenciaga does with its much-loved Balenciaga Motorcycle Bags. I love them in regular leather, patent, prints, raffia…you get the idea, I’m a fan, and so is the rest of the PurseBlog team. In fact, the only trepidation I can remember expressing over Balenciaga’s bags in the past concerned the brand’s first foray into perforated leather, and I don’t think I like the Balenciaga Polka Dot Bags any more.

If you think that “luxe straw tote” is a contradiction in terms, I don’t blame you. That’s a totally logical position to hold, and one that I happen to hold myself. In fact, the Balenciaga Panier Basket Totes are the exception that proves the rule; that they’re so chic that they make almost all the other high-end options look like exactly what they are – overpriced straw bags.

Megs and I? Balenciaga fangirls. Even our new marketing director Hilary is getting in on the act – a Balencaiga Giant City Bag was the first thing added to her wardrobe after she joined our team a few months ago. The brand is best known for its Motorcycle Bags in a litany of colors, which are refreshed every season and sometimes fiercely sought by collectors for years afterward.

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