Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Hermès Kelly bag: a case for compartmentalisation

I am not much of a girly girl. I don't get excited about shoes or dresses. I can't remember if I even own a dress; I may have a few skirts somewhere but I'm not so much of a girl's girl. However, I do like bags. 
Kelly bag: named after Grace Kelly, Princess Grace of Monaco,
a well loved actress. Image:
I probably don't like them as much as the next girl but I like them quite a bit. I get fairly excited around bags and anyone who knows me well knows why. Compartments. If it doesn't have lots of compartments and secret zips or pockets or partitions I am significantly less excited. Well to be honest I simply do not care for minimally compartmentalised bags. I find them quite disagreeable.

It's to do with order as opposed to chaos. I have a vague recollection of a lecture I attended during my student days in which it was impressed on me that compartmentalisation is a mark of cellular sophistication, a significant evolutionary feature. A smart cell has membrane bound organelles that perform their functions distinctly from the rest of the cellular contents with a timeliness and orderliness that enables adjacent cells to perform in sync and thus specialise as cell types, organs, organ systems and ultimately a complex organism. That's you and me. Complex organisms. 

Interior of the Kelly bag.
Boffins might refer to the spatiotemporal compartmentalisation of key physiological processes. The gist I got from the lecture was that everything should have it's place and everything should happen in the right place at the right time. You can't just have all your business happening willy nilly. Haphazardness in unevolved. It is only the rudimentary and unsophisticated organism whose processes are all mixed up, molecules all up in each other's space like vegetables in a sack... or keys, phones, purses, pens, wallets, cards, lipstick and a diary at the bottom of a handbag...I'm just saying. Ergo, to a functionality-focused-fox such as myself a vintage Hermès Kelly bag worth thousands of dollars is highly unimpressive.  Don't get me wrong I think they're cute, but no ma'am, I am unmoved. I say this with my nose decidedly turned up as if someone has just offered to buy me one (yeah, right) and I will not be made to acquiesce to such a base proposition.

I found a bag at a flea market. It comes with a little fair trade story about how this line of bags is made in rural KwaZulu Natal by a group of women that Western markets are supposed to feel sorry for and buy the bags as a sort of feel good, social upliftment activity, a clever way to minimise their guilt about their excessive and unnecessary consumerism. But that's a story for another time..;-) This bag is highly evolved. It has compartments galore: cell phone, mp3player, magazine/book, keys, even a separate space specifically for shoes. You know; so you can drive or walk and then get to work and put on your killer heels for that corporate ninja look. It's a commuting girl's bag. That's what the story said, not me. So I bought it. Because what can I say? I am a highly complex and sophisticated organism of a girl and a willy nilly lifestyle is not for me. I'm just saying...


  1. Sandi you have just changed what I thought was the simple act of seeing a bag, liking it and buying it into a complex metaphysial process which requires me to actually actively engage in the whole process...hahaha.

  2. And rightly so Thoey83. Accessories are very serious business I'd say.