Real Talk

You’ve Purchased Your Holy Grail, Now What?

Relish your acquisition, or onto the next?

The idea of a Holy Grail Bag is certainly nothing new within the luxury lexicon. It’s that bag you’re dreaming of every night in your sleep and daydreaming about every waking hour. It’s the one you’re constantly doom-scrolling for on your socials and across various retailers and resellers, sacrificing your sleep, time, overpriced lattes, and happy hours with your close-but-not-really work besties.

I should know, for my search for the elusive “just right” Sac de Jour remains unfulfilled.

And that’s alright. Your HG warrants a ritual that must be relished in and of itself. Aside from a genuine monetary investment, it takes an investment of effort and energy, sometimes over months—or even years! After all, that’s what makes it so special. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself after another search for the SDJ on eBay yields mostly undesirable contenders.

Is harboring the mere fantasy of a Holy Grail sometimes enough?

But throughout my pursuits, I stumbled upon a pristine white Fendi Spy Bag, one of my mom’s all-time Holy Grails. So, of course, I immediately snatched it up without devoting much thought to it. It was only upon arrival (with the involuntary delays of delivery) that it struck me: is harboring the mere fantasy of a Holy Grail sometimes enough (especially if the object of your desires is an immaculate white purse in a perpetually humid climate)? And what lies on the other side once you’ve actually acquired it?

Fendi Spy Bag

Fendi Spy Bowler
via Fashionphile

The Thrill of the Hunt

The Holy Grail isn’t stagnant; it’s a fluid notion that thrives on taste and proliferates with passion. After all, desire is subjective, so why shouldn’t the object of said desire be too right?

However, one of the defining features of nearly all HGBs is their general rarity, a major reason why the Birkin remains coveted by so many. Of course, cost plays a part, too (although, at this point, the vast majority of luxury bags are rather price-restrictive). In fact, pretty much anything and everything that prevents you from waltzing out of the store with your dream bag makes it more desirable.

That is the notion most legacy fashion houses are keen to cultivate, thus implementing a veritable armada of price hikes, quotas, VIP-only stores, and waitlists, all in a bid to make securing the bag more arduous and, consequently, thrilling. After all, if the immediate purchase was a realistic prospect, price-wise or otherwise, where would its allure be?

The Himalayan Birkin – one of the ultimate Holy Grails

But is your collection complete once you’ve gamely overcome all the hurdles and turned that far-off illusion into a reality?

The Elusive Purse-Peace

Picture this: you’ve finally got your hands on that one handbag you’ve been lusting after for years, planning the moment down to the tiniest detail. You’ve to remind yourself to breathe, adrenaline coursing through your veins. So, to think that now you must expose your precious purse to the elements, to the dirt and grime of everyday wear, must be a crushing realization. After all, buying the bag is one, but physically using it is entirely another.

More so if the purse itself isn’t the most practical (contrary to your fantasies where it was the most perfect thing in existence), relegating itself to a permanent place inside your closet and awaiting when it can finally see daylight again. And in your desperation, you decide to purchase, or at the very least, begin lusting after, something else to fill the void. After all, you can now chart newer waters with your previous Holy Grail safely nestled in your nest!

Purse peace is the ideology where you feel content with your collection, often characterized by your willpower and restraint to refuse further temptation. And if the several PurseForum threads on the subject are any indication, many of us have successfully managed to be at peace with our posse of purses. For a larger group, however, purse peace is a far-off reality – if the “perfect” purse doesn’t exist, can you ever really be at peace? And just because you have accumulated everything you could want now, who’s to say that’ll hold true a couple of seasons down the line?

Chanel Cruise 2024 9.jpg
With new collections every season, where does the cycle stop?

The Paradox of Desire

Thus, we reach the juncture where we begin to question what meaning our Holy Grails hold for us, if any at all.

In theory, if we’ve been coveting something for so long, it makes sense that, once we come into its possession, we may feel a sense of spiritual fulfillment, or, in tPFers’ terms, purse peace. In reality, however, the desire we feel for a certain item is, ever so often, merely a fear of missing out. After all, with “treating yourself” sprees, massive Instagram hauls, and frequent but urgent “get it before it’s gone” sales, Holy Grails have devolved into a never-ending cycle of (often conspicuous) consumption.

Of course, the gratification is there; you have the magical moment when you, too, can show off your latest acquisition to the world. But in an era when desire is manufactured and commodified, gratification is short-lived, what with your favorite brands populating your feed and a closet full of ghosts of Holy Grails past.

In the end, maturing is realizing that your needs have evolved (maybe I don’t really need an SDJ?), and, naturally, what once felt like a must-have to you is now no longer does (or maybe I do?). And with the boom in resale, curating your closet is arguably easier than ever. But it’s equally as easy to get caught up in the competition, and ultimately, it feels very much like a competition. As Kaitlin says, “It’s not about the brand, the bag, or even the price, rather a Holy Grail is a state of mind. How bad do you want it?”

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HotSundae
HotSundae
10 months ago

I finally got my HG, the Prada Fairy, after coveting it for 15 years. I felt like if I still wanted it after that long, I would always love it, and I do, but I’m afraid to wear it because of its susceptibility to bleeding. But I’m still really happy I got it. Broke 20s me could only dream of owning it someday, and I’m crushing it in my career now, I earned it. But instead of giving me purse peace it provoked something else – the realization that the minimalism I pursued in my 30s (think Mansur Gavriel, or Celine-inspired bags) were never really me. They were the “quiet luxury” I had internalized as something that I should aspire to project as an urban professional. But now I’m in my DGAF era, the world is on fire, and I just want to embrace things that give me sheer, unapologetic joy. I love how with the secondary market, we can give our preloved bags new homes and find the ones that got away.

Laura W
Laura W
10 months ago
Reply to  HotSundae

Love this. I think the old saying is true. With age comes wisdom 🙂

Amanda R
Amanda R
10 months ago
Reply to  HotSundae

Love this! It reminds me of 2015 when I sold all of my designer bags. I had this weird guilt/shame because I had let others’ opinions (mostly family) about designer bags being “a ridiculous waste of money” get into my head. Years later, my heart just missed them so much, and now I’m in my DGAF era, too. I’m buying all the bags I [responsibly] can, and I dare anyone to say a damn thing to me.

YES to the preloved market comment. I’m going to get my LV Alma BB in Rose Litchi vernis back!! 💪

Catherine
Catherine
10 months ago

If there’s one thing I know after all these years of chasing/acquiring/selling- wash, rinse, repeat- it’s that I now can wish for a bag, search for it, all while realizing that I’ll lose interest soon and I will wish for a different bag. All without spending a boatload of money. And now I’ve actually got the disposable income to buy whatever bag I want. But I’m spending nothing.
THIS to me is my purse peace.

Elusive Purse Peace
Elusive Purse Peace
10 months ago

Great article! Reminds me of a Hidden Brain podcast from the other day about compulsive consumption and how we get dopamine hits from things like online shopping, and the more we “push” those levers in our brain the more our dopamine supply diminishes. I definitely tried to cut back once I realized I was constantly after the thrill of the chase and then the high of my new bag was wearing off quicker each time. Kinda scary if you’re not paying attention to it!

#1Snob
#1Snob
10 months ago

As soon as you get a Kelly or Birkin, you reach purse peace because they are the S teir of luxury bags! Nothing is, and will be better 🤪💅 Just flaunting Hermès 24/7 to signal to others you are the QUEEN in the room with the highest coveted bag is electrifying! 🙆‍♀️👜

tara
tara
10 months ago
Reply to  #1Snob

So understand,,,,,,,, Aiming at 1 soon.

#1Snob
#1Snob
10 months ago
Reply to  #1Snob

/s

Jennifer
Jennifer
10 months ago

I was lucky enough to get my holy grail bag on my one and only trip to a Chanel store in Virginia. A medium double flap in black caviar with silver hardware. It’s beautiful. And I’ve had it for years so it’s doubled in value. I wouldn’t buy one today but I’ll never let it go!

Terri
Terri
10 months ago

I already got my HGB, so onto bespoke bag by indie brands next!

Patricia
Patricia
10 months ago

I bought an H Evelyne tp because I had the chance, being with a friend who is ‘that special customer’ I dreamed about that bag. Now I have it and it sits in my closet 🤭. Scared to take her out. I am a bag lover but have to admit with these prices I keep thinking I can invest $5k instead of getting that Chanel single flap….anyone feel the same?

Shaaron
Shaaron
10 months ago
Reply to  Patricia

Absolutely, I only started maybe 15 years ago by buying and selling and now I have a gorgeous collection but things I’ve noticed is I would have loved a Kelly bag 15 years ago and today when I can afford it, it doesn’t do a thing because we live in a society of theft, lack of respect and just lack of personal value so I much prefer a bag under $5k that really excites me just as much I’m sure. I’m also no longer going into a busy office so what would I do with that in all honesty. As we go through life, our bag needs def change. I have learned that I need a double option carry bag which is not to say I would not get a shoulder bag for an occasion but the price matters. Bags need to be sensible now to me to be effective! That is my Holy Grail. My Holy Grail really was my Chanel and now 3 later I truly do not flash them everyday. I use my easy, sensible bags and LV has joined my collection once again.

#1Snob
#1Snob
10 months ago
Reply to  Patricia

Let that bag live, don’t keep it locked up in a closet! Show off and be proud!

tara
tara
10 months ago
Reply to  #1Snob

Right on! but sometimes once you get a bag of our dreams you just want to sit and wake up o looking at it every morning. Such a pleasant feeling, I must say.

FashionableLena
FashionableLena
10 months ago

My holy grail is a Chanel Trendy CC, but I don’t like black handbags. Having one in a pink or teal would be nice. The only other bag I would consider is a pink Lady Dior in the medium size or one of the limited editions.

Max
Max
10 months ago

I don’t understand the ‘rarity’ of the ubiquitous Birkin, they saturate the secondary market.
I’ve always thought they are more a demonstration of wealth.
in my opinion there is nothing special about the bag and after some time the way it misshapes and takes on the life of whatever it carries is not acceptable to me.

Chantal
Chantal
10 months ago
Reply to  Max

I have two Birkins. Once you see the quality of the craftsmanship, you understand the difference between this bag and others. Is it a display of wealth? Absolutely. Nobody buys a Birkin to fly under the radar. Nonetheless, it’s a great bag. Since I purchased mine, I have barely looked at other designer handbags.

Stephanie
Stephanie
10 months ago

This is as if you wrote about me in this article!
I don’t believe purse peace lasts forever even after many HGs!
For me, it’s often overwhelming to look at my closet and then I don’t want to buy any bag for a while. But social media and luxury brands tease us. I buy a lot less bags now but only the Very elusive H HGs when I can get them.
Yes, HG= thrill and competition. Then you are almost happy and sad at the same because it’s over!

Etaina
Etaina
10 months ago

My holy grail was the pre-loved LV Capucines in black/ silver with the python handle. I was on the hunt for over a year before landing my dream bag just a few weeks ago, and sold two other Capucines on the pre-loved market to pay for her. So far, it’s only been out of the house a few times, but I’ll take it out of the dust bag frequently, just to admire her. For now, the thirst is quenched, but finding myself drawn to admire/ consider purchasing less expensive bags by LV, knowing I’ve got my HG.

JiJi
JiJi
10 months ago

Couldn’t agree more. Recently, I was facing this kind of dilemma, it’s just human nature that we never get enough of anything and keep on hunting. So, my new wishlist established within a week that I got my HGB.

bir
bir
10 months ago

HG. be happy I’m very close so……….. i’ll be happy

Gina
Gina
10 months ago

Great article!

Honestly I have decided to no longer consider purse peace because each time I tell myself I won’t buy anymore handbags, I wind up being out of control and buying five.

It’s like with peanut butter…I used to eat a whole jar in two days. When I told myself I wasn’t allowed to have it and that it’s banned, I got worse and would eat two jars in that time. I allow myself to eat all foods and suddenly I no longer binge oj peanut butter.

Makes me thing I need to have the same viewpoint with handbags. I love the hunt for a grail. Some bags have taken me years to find in certain condition.

Maria
Maria
10 months ago

One of my HG is a small Chanel 19 in goatskin in a dark colour apart from black, will prob check out the resale market when I travel to Japan as the current prices are abit steep and they only have lambskin.The other HG is an LV small capucine in red with ghw, not a style I will use but it’s such an elegant bag to last the times. Currently at purse peace after getting my first Chanel WOC in black caviar ghw with the turnlock opening which had a story behind it. But currently in waiting for a mini lindy from Hermes after decluttering some LV bags / slgs / accessories for my birthday so just see if my SA will make it happen, it doesnt come, it’s all good.

Rosendo garcia
Rosendo garcia
10 months ago

I think I’ve gotten to purse heaven, I have 2 Birkins and 2 Chanel maxis 1 Chanel jumbo (vintage of course) and some filler bags like CL, Dior, Marc Jacobs, fendi, Gucci, but honestly I think I’ve lost interest in handbag already, maybe a Chanel medium double flap in lamb skin or caviar but honestly since I’ve bought and resold and the process again, honestly I think i have lost interested. Oh well