“It’s a Baguette,” Carrie Bradshaw says in response to a mugger’s “gimme your bag” in one of the most memorable bits of dialogue from Sex and the City.The exchange, from an episode titled “What Goes Around Comes Around” that aired during the show’s third season in 2000, is played for laughs: fashionista-with-gun-to-her-face educates would-be-thief on the proper style name for the item he’s after. (He makes sure to subsequently request her Manolo Blahniks.)
But for Sarah Jessica Parker’s character the loss is also poignant. The Fendi Baguette — named for the loaves of bread French women carry tucked nonchalantly under their arms and identified by its compact size, rectangular shape, and playful fabrications — isn’t just a handbag, it’s a collectors item. Fashioned from every imaginable material including silver mirrored leather, natural raffia,pink crochet, andfloral embroidered snakeskin, each of the thousands of limited edition Baguettes created over the past 25 years — like Carrie’s Fall 1999 style dripping in grape-juice colored sequins — was available for just one season.
The Baguette is widely credited as the world’s first It bag, but when Silvia Venturini Fendi debuted the style on the Fall 1997 runway, the Fendi design team wasn’t convinced it would be a commercial success. The nineties, after all, was the heyday of minimalism. And the Baguette — which took cues from the richly embellished evening bags that Venturini Fendi’s grandmother, Fendi co-founder Adele Fendi, had once carried — was on the surface anything but minimal. Nevertheless, it did have a certain economy of style thanks to its slim silhouette, single strap, and flap closure with sleek FF hardware. The Baguette was an instant hit with fashion editors and Y2K celebrities like Paris Hilton.
The Baguette is a blank canvas — sometimes literally: artists KAWS, Damien Hirst, Pae White, and Tom Sachs have all designed their own versions. While the Baguette initially came in just one size, more recently Fendi has introduced nano, mini, and mamaversions. Baguettes are instant collectibles because their designs are not repeated — with perhaps one notable exception. Fendi re-released the purple sequin Baguette in 2019 and Carrie wore it on the first season of And Just Like That… in 2021, more than two decades after she lost the original in an alleyway in New York’s SoHo neighborhood.