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Moment 21: 'It' Bags

The Fendi "Baguette" made its debut in 1997, launching the "It" bag era as we know it, though Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton started the trend in the Fifties.

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Grace Kelly holds what would become the Kelly bag in 1959 seen with Philadelphia surgeon James Lehman The actress was in town to have her appendix out

Grace Kelly holds what would become the Kelly bag, in 1959, seen with Philadelphia surgeon James Lehman. The actress was in town to have her appendix out.

Photo By Popperfoto/Getty Images

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD 100 issue 11/01/2010

Designed to tuck neatly under one's arm, the Fendi Baguette made its debut in 1997, just as "Sex and the City" and Carrie Bradshaw's accessories-at-any-cost mania hit the airwaves. And thus the "It" bag was coined. Few women clamoring to get their names on a Baguette waiting list realized, however, that Fendi's shrewd marketing and singular design was preceded by an even headier "It" bag era: the Fifties. Three major labels dueled for iconic accessory status in that decade, starting with the house of Chanel, which launched an updated, quilted version of its classic handbag with straps in February 1955, dubbed, appropriately, the 2.55.

A year later, Princess Grace of Monaco—née Kelly—was snapped carrying Hermès' wildly popular Sac à Dépêches, and the label swiftly renamed the bag the Kelly. And then there was Louis Vuitton, known best for its monogrammed luggage. That changed in 1959, when the house swept its initials onto everything from purses to wallets. Given the history, one might call Carrie Bradshaw's Baguette-and-Balenciaga yen a second-generation obsession.