1997—The first “it” bag I knew was the Fendi Baguette. It was this east-west rectangular-shaped bag with a double F Fendi logo snap enclosure that came with a detachable strap for under-the-arm (like the French baguette bread) carrying.
I distinctly remember seeing the bag on the arms of many a celebrity, with photos of them splashed across high-fashion magazines. The love for it was contagious. The bag was soon seen on the arms of fashionable women in international society.
I decided it was the bag I wanted—no, needed to own. So I walked into the Fendi boutique in Hong Kong, even if I knew there was no way I was going to own this bag because it was sold out everywhere. I took my chances anyway, thinking there might be that small 1-percent opportunity that there was one “in the back.” I walked out disappointed, as expected.
My efforts paid off after a considerable amount of time when my regular sales associate told me over one unassuming visit that they had two of those bags in the back. I was practically celebrating deep inside. But there was a catch—she informed me that the two bags were already reserved for two ladies who had been waiting for the baguette just as long as I had—in fact, even much longer.
I begged her to let me see the bag. She shook her head; it was not possible, she said, because the bag was already spoken for. It was pure torture.
Standing my ground
I have come this far, I thought to myself. So I stood my ground, unwilling to move from my spot. Never mind work. All I wanted was to see the bag, to find out if it was as beautiful in real life as it was on that huge billboard on the façade of the Sheraton Hotel (where the Fendi boutique was then located). I could end up disliking it, I then thought to myself. But even without seeing the bag up close, I just knew I was that crazy about it.
Perhaps it was out of pity, or exasperation and frustration that I was refusing to leave the boutique premises, but after what seemed like forever, the sales manager gave in and dictated her “condition”—“You can see it, but only see it. Not buy it.”
I was in near tears—and this I don’t exaggerate. There I was, more than willing to part with my hard-earned salary from my first job—all for a Fendi Baguette that was extremely hard to get! In my life, I had never wanted any material thing this bad. Nothing material is worth losing your sensibility, my parents had taught me, and it is the advice I would still repeat to myself when I have sleepless nights over a bag to this day.
But I remember all too clearly that moment when I felt all sensibility deserting me as I made a mad dash for the Fendi boutique glass doors.
I saw the bag. Handled by the sales associate with gloves, it was delicately and intricately beaded. It was even more beautiful than in the photos. I had reached the point of no return at that moment. I believed the sales associates and manager who hovered around me also knew there was no way I was leaving Fendi without the bag.
So where does this Fendi Baguette story end? Well, the manager saw the desperation in my eyes, threw her arms up in the air and decided to sell me the bag since they hadn’t made the call to the clients just yet. So you see, there was a happy ending after all! Patience does get rewarded.
2012: After the birth of the first Baguette in 1997, the Fendi Baguette craze is back. Baguette mania was celebrated at Singapore’s newly opened Fendi flagship store in Ngee Ann City last May 23 with the preview of Silvia Venturini-Fendi’s picks: a reissue/reedition of six of her favorite Fendi Baguettes.
The timing of the Baguette mania could not have been better, as there has been a shift in bag size popularity—from the once preferred oversized and large ones to smaller, lighter and more manageable ones.
Also part of the celebration was the launch of the Fendi Baguette book, which features 250 pages of the Baguette in all its glory and in different versions—from the monogram Zucca to rich textile prints, fur and exotics, intricate beadwork and heavy embroidery.
So if you have kept your Fendi Baguettes from yesteryears, it is definitely time to carry them out again. Or you can always check out the Baguette’s newest looks this season, or even reward yourself with one of the limited-edition pieces.
The Fendi Baguette is a winner style-wise, and is definitely one of the iconic bags of all time.
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