Five for Finding: The Red/Black Trapeze

In high school, five things creeped me out: revolving doors, corduroy, bunk beds, clowns and shoelaces. No rational person should fear these. (Except shoelaces. Some day, someone’s sneaker will unwind on an escalator and get caught in the grate at the top when stepping off. Don’t be that person. Take an elevator instead).

A lot of people say they’re scared of clowns, but I think it’s mostly talk. Go to a circus and offer them the choice to dress as a clown or jump from a 25′ trapeze without a net. How many other fears have to be overcome–heights, pain, failure–to think that the climb will be less frightening than putting on a red nose that honks?

“Trapeze” might seem the right description for a bag we think of as thrill-inspiring or daring, not the name of a soft-structured tote/satchel hybrid that has become the signature of Céline. But there’s a bit of genius to this–even if not apparent at first.

Introduced by designer Phoebe Philo in Fall 2011, the Trapeze comes off as a bit of a casual, slouchy briefcase, younger sister to Céline’s smartly formal Luggage tote. It might have been written off as unremarkable were it not for exaggerated side wings, a novel element competitors began interpreting and adapting immediately.

This spring, Philo told Purple magazine, “As I get older…fabric is relevant in lots of areas of my life…When I feel insecure, I try and build safety around it.” Vulnerability is an admission some interpret as weakness, but I find more compelling her will to counter it via a comfort–design–rather than freeze in the fear of her own “trapeze.”

My sense is a bit of economic fear played into this fall’s assortments more than than the previous year or two, notably the way color took a back seat to animal prints. But brands haven’t abandoned a comfort consumers find in the Trapeze’s wings, mimicking it via color blocks, the use of zippers on edges and textural treatments, all in red/black combos that–if safe today–have future thrill potential.

These are five red/black trapeze-shape bags for finding:


1:  Kenneth Cole, $248

2:  Henri Bendel, $498
3:  Ted Baker, $510
4:  3.1 Phillip Lim, $695
3.1 Phillip Lim
5:  Celine, $2600



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