I bet I’m not the only one among us who had her introduction to high-end designer bags with the Chloe Paddington. Back in late 2005, I was a college student who had just found the PurseForum, and something about the Paddington (Was it the lock? The handle attachments? Who knows.) sucked me straight in, just as it had sucked in so many others before me. By then, waiting lists were already a mile long and getting longer; the fashion industry was in a full-on Paddington panic, and the fervor we saw last year over the Celine Luggage Tote doesn’t even compare. Now, eight years after its launch, the Paddington is back on store shelves as part of Chloe’s 60th anniversary celebration. But do you care?
Walking down Madison Avenue a couple of weeks ago, a friend and I saw a woman carrying a Paddington and got to talking about how the bag had aged in the almost-decade since its debut. Our conclusion was, resoundingly, not well. Everything about it – the enormous lock, the abundance of detailed trim, the proportion of the bag, the long handles, the lack of shoulder strap – feels very much of that time. Perhaps it’s because the Paddington was so omnipresent in the mind of handbag aficionados of the mid-aughts, but carrying a Paddington now feels retro in a bad way. Of course, eight years out, very little in the way of fashion feels pleasantly nostalgic.
Personally, I don’t think it’s just the bag’s former ubiquity that serves it poorly. The Balenciaga Motorcycle Bags, for example, have been hugely popular for over a decade, and they still look right at home on the arm of a fashionable woman. They’re simpler, and when compared to the Paddington, they’re downright minimal, which is much more in tune with what’s going on in the handbag world right now. Even the Marc Jacobs Stam, with its frame structure and signature chain, feels more current (and if any It Bag of yore could be primed for a comeback, it’s probably the Stam – Fall 2013 runways were covered with chain accents).
This new version of the Paddington looks largely unchained, but unfortunately, the price does appear to have been updated. Paddingtons retailed for around $1,300 at their debut, but this one will set you back $2,195 via Barneys.