Transparent bags are trending, which means you can finally find your keys. It’s summery. It practically shouts “Having a good time with my outfit here.” The see-through bag trend was the accessory du jour at recent New York and European fashion shows.

When Chanel debuted its spring/summer 2018 bag collection, heads turned more than usual this year as the French fashion house sent a PVC version of their classic flap and tote down the runway. Trimmed with soft pastel pink, green and blue, the bag ushered in a transparent fashion trend that launched the incarnation of plastic bags by several other designer brands.

But plastic played an integral role in fashion long before Chanel’s see-through vision came to light, its presence spanning a history of over 80 years. Accidentally discovered in 1872 by a German chemist, scientists perfected PVC for commercial use in 1926.

Just four years later in 1930, fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who was once called the “Surreal Provocateur Who Forever Altered Fashion,” incorporated the synthetic material in her clothing – from exaggerated plastic zippers to see-through rain coats. She also used Rhodoid, a newly developed clear plastic to make a necklace decorated with metallic insects. It gave the illusion that they were crawling on the skin of whoever was brave enough to wear it.

In the 60s and 70s, plastic became a mainstay in the high fashion world. Paco Rabbanne, once a student of Schiaparelli’s, launched his debut show in 1966 called “Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials,” which included plastic. This in turn led Coco Chanel to nickname him the “metallurgist of fashion.”

When the 90s rolled around, it was time for Hermes to try out plastic. The French fashion house founded in 1837 as a leather goods shop for equestrians bucked their iconic look by giving away clear vinyl bags in 1996 as invitations to their Spring/Summer fashion show.

Created in memory of the 1995 Paris Terrorist Attacks and to make security checks smoother, the vinyl Kelly bag was such a hit that in 1997, limited quantities – and an orange version – were available for sale during an exhibition that spanned 1997 to 1999 called “Hermes Exhibition in the Wonderland.” They are now only available in resale and increasingly hard to find.

The newest incarnations of plastic on the runway will set you back anywhere from $2,600 to $3,900, but Chanel isn’t the only one getting in the barely there bag game.

 

Clear bags have become the It-item of the season. See-through handbags that women can wear at all times. The lack of color opens up for a range of outfit options. The contents of your bags, whether it be your phone or a pair of headphones, instantly become a part of your accessory profile.

 


 

CELINE

On the other side of Paris we get to be swoon by other interpretations of the see through tote bag: similarly to what happened in 2017 with Balenciaga’s paper shopper (priced at more than 1000 euro), Celine has given us for summer 2018 a literal interpretation of the see through bag. Have some fun in reading out all the ‘warning’ messages.

Backstage Summer 18 Collection #CelineSummer18 #celine

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L’AFSHAR

Now the crushed ice bag: we would like everything made out of this material and finish. The best touch is the black chain, with its glossiness and chunkiness in contrast with the impalpable ridges of that clutch. Perfect for a formal night but even to elevate a minimalistic look for a night out.

The Eugene crushed ice bag (w/ the detachable Opaque Black chain) #lafshar

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ARC

Mixing materials is one of the holy grails of fashion and design: that’s why we are not sure we’ll be able to refrain from getting ourselves this ‘half moon’ transparent bag with wooden handles. Maybe we’ll use it as well just to carry around all our perfume bottles.

 

CHANEL

Kaia Gerber was chosen for Chanel’s campaign on their see-through bags: lesson learnt, their transparency is being elevated to planet sophistication, which means you will be seeing many of these completing formal looks as well as summer flowy dresses ensembles.

 

PRADA

By far, it’s the bevy of clear, cool designer shopping bags—the kind you might grab at the grocery store but certainly not in a Céline or Prada boutique. That is, until now. cleverly reinventing the everyday emblem to challenge our ideas of luxury while turning out something achingly covetable. Sadly, they don’t come free with purchase—but they’re a fraction of the price of, say, a slouchy leather shoulder bag. So show off where you shop (and showcase all your stuff) with a sturdy and chic tote that’s equal parts playful and weatherproof.

Unexpected transparencies. #PradaSS18 collection via link in bio.

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