An “addiction” some people will never understand —“bagaholism”—is the subject of a new book, and the object of this obsession—bags—was showcased in a one-day exhibit held last week by Inquirer Lifestyle and LOOK Magazine’s mini book, with Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI).
This attempt to explain and celebrate these exquisite, and often expensive, objects of beauty, in an exhibit, was a first in the Philippines.
The mini book, “Help! I’m a Bagaholic!” by magazine editors and Inquirer contributors Stefanie Cabal and Carmencita Sioson, is a sort of confessional tome of so-called “bagaholics,” and their relationship with their totes and minaudières.
Published by Hinge Inquirer Publications Inc., a business unit in the Inquirer Group, the full-color 173-page mini book was launched on Oct. 28 in an exhibit of well-loved and iconic
purses from some of Manila’s known bag collectors, at Central Square mall in Bonifacio Global City.
The book and exhibit were conceptualized by Inquirer Lifestyle editor and Hinge group publisher and editorial director Thelma Sioson San Juan.
“Bags are today’s women’s jewelry, something they covet and invest in, it’s a wonder that no one had thought about this earlier—putting the to-lust-for iconic bags under one roof,” she had said.
Presented by Inquirer Lifestyle with luxury retailer SSI, and Hermes and Bulgari, the exhibit showed coveted pieces from SSI’s roster of global brands: Tod’s, Fendi, Bally, Furla and Kate Spade, among others, and from Rustan’s, Loewe, Longchamp and Stella McCartney.
The purses were fenced in with a hedge at the atrium of the new mall, in the fountain area.
In a special place in the exhibit were the displays of prestige brands Hermès and Bulgari, curated by Mario Katigbak, the brands’ country manager.
“It’s very Aurora, don’t you think?” said Rina Go, one of the guests who loaned some of her family’s bag collection—three vintage Gucci shoulder bags and mini knapsack on a pedestal. Go, who came with teen daughter Nicole Thorp, was referring to her mother, Aurora Silayan Go, known sociologist with the edgy pixie haircut, a best-dressed-list regular in her prime.
Rina and daughter Nicole, who are featured on the book, also loaned three other purses for the show, her own Bottega Veneta vintage woven bag, and two of her late sister Maggie’s bags, one of which was a vintage crocodile Prada.
Like the Gos, mother-and-daughter Maria Cristina Hernandes de Cacho Olbes and Rocio Olbes, who are also featured in the book, loaned their precious vintage beaded satin evening purse, inherited from Maria Cristina’s mother.
Even Inquirer Group president and CEO Sandy Romualdez used a little heirloom piece to the event, a vintage beaded purse from her grandmother.
Blogger and TV host Ingrid Chua-Go also had two pieces on display, a Charlotte Olympia Lucite clutch reminiscent of the Chanel No. 5 perfume bottle and a Fendi satchel. In the show notes, Chua-Go said that the clutch came way before Chanel produced its own perfume bottle clutch.
The blogger and bag expert also loaned her By The Way purse from Fendi, a satchel that was given her by Fendi creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi. She attended the event toting a Moschino McDonald’s Happy Meal bag.
Also featured were three Alexander McQueen minaudières of Sheila Romero, and a knot Bottega Veneta clutch and custom Hello Kitty Goyard of Tessa Prieto-Valdes. Both were gifts to the Inquirer Lifestyle columnist known as Sea Princess—the Bottega, in understated black, a counterpoint to her colorful personality, and the second, a white Goyard shopper doodled on by Sanrio artist Yuko Yamaguchi, a gift from Virgie Ramos, the pioneering entrepreneur who brought Gift Gate to the Philippines.
Popular dermatologist Aivee Aguilar Teo also loaned two of her own, a personalized tote from the French house Moreau, and a hard makeup and toiletries case from another heritage French company, Goyard.
In the book, Teo talks about her penchant for functional bags, the first luxury bag she ever received (from her dad, a Gucci), her first purchase with her own money (a Coach), and her favorite (a purple clutch from her young son).
For Crickette Tantoco, functionality is key in choosing a bag, never mind if it’s not an “iconic” style. On display was her no-nonsense large brown leather tote by Coach, which she described as food-and-drinks- and pen-stains-proof, not needing extra-special care.
“I want them light, efficient and fuss-free,” Tantoco says in the book. The retail executive (Payless ShoeSource) is passing on not just her purse but also her practical sensibilities to her twin daughters, Nicole and Camille.
For Bulgari, Katigbak selected a peach-pink shoulder bag with gold chain from the Serpenti Collection, and mini crocodile evening purse in pink from the Isabella Rossellini collection, the latter estimated to cost about P300,000.
For Hermès, there was a 35-cm Birkin purse in orange Togo calfskin, and a 35-cm Kelly Sellier in Epsom calfskin rose Tyrien, displayed with the brand mascot Hermey the horse, a plush toy representing the brand’s saddler heritage.
The Hermès showcase is estimated to be about P1 million.
Of course, Filipino bag artisans were also represented, in both the book and the exhibit. For the show, there were three pieces from Amina Aranaz-Alunan, from her collection of hand-carved minaudières, and also a clutch from New York-based Rafe Totengco, a geometric clutch made of shell and wood.
“Help! I’m a Bagaholic!” is available at National Bookstore, Powerbooks and Fully Booked.