01 January 2020


Do I begin with the book or the bag?

Let's start with Bill. Bill Cunningham's death in 2016 left a hole in the heart of the New York Times. He was something else, a charming eccentric with a great eye. Happily Clarkson Potter has come out with a delicious coffee table book, collecting decades of his street photographs and, incidentally, acting as a history of fashion from about 1970 to 2015.

I'm not a fashionista. I'm happy to wear jeans and a cardigan every day, I don't go in for designer labels, and I haven't worn heels since I was 19 and foolish. But those photographs by Cunningham, and the way he assembled them into essays - 4 pictures of people in black & white stripes, or 7 pictures of people jumping over or stepping in puddles, or all the leather jackets, all the skin tight dresses, all the palazzo pants - pure joy. I can love it without wanting to dress up.

Relatedly, and in the department of "I never learned how to be a real girl," is I don't go in for fancy leather bags. I pretty much only use a handbag on the weekend or on vacation (I use a tote bag to get back and forth to work), and usually I tend towards a useful smallish nylon bag with a cross body shoulder strap. I find, though, that when I'm running errands and climbing in and out of the car, I tend to grab the bag by the top - where there isn't a handle - and that kind of defeats the whole shoulder strap thing. So I've had my eye out for a small bag with no shoulder strap, and I haven't found one. Well, that's not totally true - I found a lovely one on line one day, but it's rather out of my price range. But! Not so long ago, I remembered that I had once upon a time bought a small black cotton tool bag, and I rummaged around in the house and I found it! And it was exactly what I was thinking I needed.

Imagine, then, my surprise and delight to find, in the Cunningham book, a 1987 picture of super model Naomi Campbell, in 1987, in which she's CARRYING THE VERY SAME SMALL BLACK TOOL BAG.

I just about plotzed.

Was it a thing? Did I somehow know that little black toolbags were all the rage? Or was it just happenstance? I cannot remember where or why I bought that bag, but I am distinctly amused to own it.

And if you too want to be like me and Naomi Campbell, you can find them online: Military Surplus GI Style Canvas Mechanics Tool Bag - Small

Here's to inadvertent fashion in 2020!


MARY G said...

I have a fabric bag, one for winter and one for summer, identical, with a wooden lathe across the top for when I grab it (them?)there. Fashion, where art thou.
You scored! And now I have to find that book.