Chanel gives a passé accessory an elegant makeover

Are fanny packs back?

In a place as notoriously fabulous (and ever so slightly impractical) as Paris runways, what a delight it is to spy something that combines beauty and function. Which is exactly what happened this week when Chanel once again brought the fanny pack back—this time to Paris Haute Couture Week.

As opposed to the fanny packs of yore (no bulging neon nylon with plastic buckles here!), these sleekly embellished little bags lie flat, and are worn low on the hip to one side. They coordinate with sophisticated Chanel suits and caped dresses alike.

Of course, Chanel calls them “waist bags” (Gucci calls their version, “belt bags“), certainly not fanny packs. But no matter the name, the use is the same. And, whether you like the idea of a waist bag or not (wearable purses have been a divisive issue for many designers over the years), it’s refreshing and a little surprising to see them done so elegantly.

Catwalking | Getty Images

When asked about his runway show, which was set in the front lawn of a stunning life-size doll-house structure, Karl Lagerfeld talked about using the common place in the couture. One way he incorporated this idea was by making much of the clothing line and the runway set out of natural materials like wood and straw, “to take ecology one step further, and to make it high fashion and [to create] a very elegant and very luxurious version of it,” he said.

The intricate straw and wood-work is, of course, gorgeous, detailed and impressive. But he also showed us how the common can blend with high fashion in another way: the utility of this Chanel line. While Lagerfeld doesn’t address the bags specifically, he mentions that “the skirts are very comfortable … so people can move. They are not something [in which] you cannot move.”

And we think that’s an important point that carries over to not just his hip bags, but the overall Chanel vision. Because whether we want to wear a haute couture dress, a tailored suit or jeans and boots, these lovely little bags give the modern real-life woman a wink, and a nod. They speak to stylish, busy women—those of us who look for elegant accessories to help manage our days.

How nice it would be to have our arms clear—no bags slinging around our shoulders— so we might have our hands open and free to accept what life brings.

Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.