If there’s one thing that has fuelled my obsession for purses, and fashion in general, since the beginning of time (i.e., for the last 3 years), it is the city of New York. That, and my neighborhood cafe, where people seem to always have some crazy expensive outfit/purse combination going on.
But back to the topic of New York: Most people generally tend to marvel at Paris for being “the fashion capital” of the world, but it’s NYC that I regard as the home of high-fashion, and it’s the New York aspect, and not the Parisian scenes, of The Devil Wears Prada that struck me the most. Promenading across a busy street in all-white with a silver handbag? Loved it! Knee-high boots, a navy cape, and a distressed tan carryall? Quintessentially cool!
But, as much as I’d like to think otherwise, life in the Big Apple probably isn’t all walks in the (Central) park. Still, the struggles of living in NYC, largely apparent in popular films like The Devil Wears Prada, Mistress America and Frances Ha, is something that I also look upon with considerable awe. Like Lily Rabe’s character, Sylvia says in The Undoing,
“You live in New York. It’s a crime not to be frantically busy.”
That’s what the quintessential New Yorker is to me; a person always on the move, constantly overworked, but effortlessly stylish nonetheless (“constantly overworked,” check, “effortlessly stylish,” still to go). And after writing, reading, and ogling purses all day, there’s one particular bag that I’ve come to believe is the very embodiment of the New Yorker. It is the Proenza Schouler PS1.
Founded by Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez in 2002, the history of the fashion house is by now common fashion-speak, with an impressive track record of studying at Parsons and their collaborative senior thesis being purchased entirely by Barneys New York! Named after their mothers’ maiden names and designs that defined the “downtown cool-girl” aesthetic, Proenza Schouler was young, carefree, liberating, and most importantly, exclusively NYC-based.
The PS1, however, was an extraordinarily different phenomenon, to say the very least. Designed to be the anti-It-bag in the height of the It-bag era, and one the duo purportedly wishes to never display on the runway, the schoolboy-like satchel is meant to be just that, a low-key bag devoid of logos. Especially when garishly maximalist bags had become the norm, of course, this anti-It bag was quickly snapped up by the fashion set. Everybody who was somebody, from Jessica Alba to Reese Witherspoon to Khloe Kardashian, had to have one, and have one they did. Initially designed as a women’s piece, it was no less popular among the male crowd either, with David Thielebule, Harpers Bazaar’s Accessories Editor, and Kyle Anderson, Marie Claire’s Accessories Director, all having been spotted toting the luscious carryall.
But while its period of peak popularity was arguably the late 2000s and early 2010s, today it has gained cult status, with tPFers regularly discussing it and its most ardent devotees scrutinizing the resale market for collectible, highly-coveted editions. Plus, even though it’s no longer the hottest bag of the moment, PS continues its production, and you can still get one for yourself. Why? Because its design hasn’t become dated at all, it remains classic in an understated, cool, but nonetheless chic manner, much like the quintessential New Yorker.
And guess what? I’ve got my hands on one! Yes, I can’t believe it myself either!
As soon as I’d learned about the existence of the PS1, I knew that it’d forever be on my wishlist, joining the ranks of the Sac de Jour and Balenciaga Work as another “stuff I’d get myself when I’m super-rich.” But having recently had the opportunity to purchase one pre-owned, I realized how low its resale values could get (buying it as an investment was never a thing for me, I knew I was simply going to keep it forever). But, the “right” bag never seemed to get listed. It was almost always the medium, which is, of course, way too small for my oversized-loving soul. There was even a gorgeous white fringe medium going for under $100 that I had to restrain myself from getting because it was white on top of being the wrong size!
But then, having pined for it for over 3 months, one fine day, it was there! A saddle in large, going for practically free. I’d read Megs’ story of scoring a Crocodile PS1 for just over $4,000 on the Outnet, and I’d naturally presumed that sort of miracles never happened within my meager budget. But this felt like something construed by the same God of purse-wonders, and I’d said yes to it even before I could process it enough to get it authenticated (do NOT try this at home, folks).
After having purchased it (it was genuine! *tears of joy*), the wait came for it to reach Bangladesh. Remember the elusive Balenciaga from my adventures in eBay? Well, that never made it; it was presumably stolen or misplaced in transit (although my generally erratic agent was gracious enough to get me a refund for it). Hence, the fear of the PS1 having met the same fate gave me nightmares for weeks on end! Until two months later, it finally arrived!
And what do I think of it? Honestly, it’s like a little piece of New York in my arms (yes, I refuse to let it go). While I am in no sane state of mind to review it without breaking into a veritable rhapsody, and Megs has done it herself on multiple occasions, it suffices to say that my very first luxury handbag couldn’t have been more satisfying. Although in large, it’s still slightly smaller than I’d generally like (it won’t fit my perfectly ancient 16” laptop), oh my goodness, it’s so spacious! I’ve been a lover of tan since my SDJ days, and this PS1 could not have been a richer, more caramel shade of tan!
The Proenza Schouler PS1, in my opinion, is the aptest representative of the spirit of New York in terms of coolness, functionality, and quality (the oh-so-luxe lambskin is to die for!), and NYC is rooted in its very origins! Additionally, the fact that its period of mass-covetable-ness is over actually happens to be a great thing. It’s incognito enough to blend in, in any environment imaginable (guess what’s gonna be my stylish carryall for college when physical classes are eventually resumed?). Still, people who know would, well, know. It’s like a little secret between us fashion-lovers, and I, for one, can’t wait to find out who amongst the crowds is savvy enough to identify it!
Hence, I might be thousands of miles away and dressed in the sloppiest sweatpants I’ve got, but now I’ve got a PS1 to channel the NYC je ne sais quoi into my outfits!
Enough about me, do you remember your very first designer bag? Did you pine for it for months (maybe years) and eventually saved up enough to purchase it? Or was it an impulse purchase that you fondly hold on to? I can’t wait to hear your stories and dream some more of my own!