Fashion

Not such a blank canvas

Tap into Noughties nostalgia - the monogram canvas bag is back

Jessica Bumpus | 06.11.2019

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With its affinity to streetwear now so well cemented, it would be all too easy to assume that logomania was born in 1996 - and not in 1896 as, actually, it kind of was; when Louis Vuitton’s son Georges introduced the iconic LV Monogram canvas in honour of his late father. Ever since, the design has served as a badge of luxury branding, adorning trunks and handbags to elevate the status of a humble, but very durable fabric. It’s one that, in 2019, has made a serious come back on the It bag front.

Everyone from Gucci to Celine, Dior, Coach and, of course, Louis Vuitton are loving this branded-textile workhorse right now, which taps into house heritage in a more-sophisticated-less-obvious-logo way. Most designs are adorned with distinct geometric patterns, built from brand initials or the name of the label itself, to create something akin to a cool 1970s wallpaper print (a time in which the canvas bag had previously experienced a bit of a heyday).

It was in 1967 that Dior’s then creative director Marc Bohan came up with the Dior Oblique canvas, a motif that you’ll have recently seen remastered via its much-loved Saddle, Book Tote and new Montaigne bag designs. John Galliano, too, reprised it at the turn of the millennium, when, appropriately, it apparently went by the name of the Logo Bag. You may also recall it as Diorissimo. And it was in 1972 that Celine originally launched its Triomphe canvas, a link motif inspired by the chain encircling the Arc de Triomphe, which under the current creative direction of Hedi Slimane is back as a centrepiece among its line-up of handbags and small leather goods.

In the 1990s, Louis Vuitton called upon the likes of Azzedine Alaia, Manolo Blahnik, Helmut Lang and Vivienne Westwood to celebrate the centenary of the canvas monogram by asking them to reinterpret it in their own way. Just as was done again in 2014 with Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Newson and Cindy Sherman among those to take on the challenge.

Undoubtedly synonymous with Noughties nostalgia for a certain generation, it’s perhaps no wonder the monogram canvas bag makes its return on the eve of 2020.

Here we canvass(!) our opinion on the best ones to buy now.

1/5

Dior

Taking its name from the address of Dior HQ on the legendary 30 Avenue Montaigne (where Mr Dior originally presented his revolutionary New Look), the Montaigne is the latest bag in the Dior stable to follow in the footsteps of the Saddle Bag and the Book Tote bag in its use of the signature house Oblique canvas (which can’t help but fast-track its success potential). But it’s because of the neat box shape that the Montaigne distinguishes itself, feeling grown-up in that very “proper” handbag sense. Even dressed down, this is the kind of bag that will dress you up – and remember, it’s canvas so it’s meant to last!

Dior, 30 Montaigne Medium Flap Bag, Jacquard Canvas and Cowhide Leather, £2,300

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2/5

Coach

Easier on the budget, but no less as convincing in its promotion of canvas is Coach, which debuted its signature topsy-turvy C pattern in 2001. It was the first pattern designed for the brand and has since become an important style stamp, which in 2016 was customised by rising fashion design star Matty Bovan. In-keeping with the pattern’s Noughties roots, it seems only right that the Hobo is your Coach canvas bag of choice - a throwback to a certain kind of 2004-boho-style (think Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson pre-The Row) that simultaneously can actually carry all your stuff.

Coach, Sutton Hobo in Colourblock Signature Canvas, £325

3/5

Celine

“Bourgeois bags” have become a bit of a thing ever since Hedi Slimane’s autumn/winter 2019 collection. So where better to buy into such fashion terminology than at Celine? (where, actually, the bags have been on fire ever since Slimane arrived). LVMH has even opened a new factory in Chianti, Italy, to increase the production of its handbags and small leather goods. This one is a perfect take on 1970s heritage and also intimidatingly cool – which when you think about it is really the only requirement of a good bag.

Celine, Medium Folco Bag in Triomphe Canvas, £890

4/5

Louis Vuitton

Taking us right back to the very beginning of this textile trend - the original tote by Louis Vuitton. It has easily become a design classic, having navigated its way through some of the more adorned and stylised versions over the years. And, as its name so suggests, it’s spacious enough to never get full. And that’s a luxury.

Louis Vuitton, Neverfull Tote, £1,010

5/5

Gucci

The 1955 bag is Gucci’s hero bag this season and it conveniently champions a bit of house monogram canvas, too. Launched among the Cruise 2020 collection, the style has been recreated from archive designs and has a great 1970s feel to it – a decade fashion simply can’t get enough of right now. Something you should know is that this bag also comes with red leather trim around its outside, which makes for a really nice tweak on tradition.

Gucci, 1955 Horsebit Shoulder Bag, £1,580

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