Rarely do I think handbags are discontinued too quickly. For most brands, debuting a consumer-friendly bag is a process that doesn’t pay off immediately, but instead, over the course of season as interest picks up among people who may not pay close attention to seasonal launches or who need some time for a bag to grow on them. Turning over a line for the Next Best Thing too quickly is risky for continuity in the minds of shoppers, and it can also cut off a design before it reaches its full potential, so brands are usually pretty conservative about putting bags on the proverbial chopping block, and by the time they get there, I usually agree it’s time for them to go. In recent years, there’s been one big exception: the Céline All Soft Bag.
The Céline All Soft made its debut in Resort 2013, long before the current trends for hobos, big bags and minimalism that it so perfectly embodies. It disappeared from store shelves a few years later, and although I was sad to hear of its demise at the time, I eventually forgot all about it—after all, there are bags coming at me left and right literally every day. I was reminded of my love for the All Soft, though, at a Kentucky Derby party a few weeks back. A well-dressed woman walked past me carrying one, and in the moment before my brain was able to make the connection to what it was, my only thought was, “Wow, that’s a really perfect bag.” It was when it debuted, and it still is now.
Very few brands are truly forward-thinking enough to risk being ahead of their time, but Céline is one of them, and the All Soft was ahead of its time by several years. In retrospect, the design is so finely tuned to everything that’s going on in accessories right now, and it’s functional on top of it: easily shoulder-carried, roomy, colorblocked into logical panels to give the exceedingly simple shape a note of modernity. There’s no hardware or gimmicks, just a really solid, chic design. The All Soft never quite took off in 2013, but in 2017, I can imagine seeing it constantly, if only there were still new ones to be had.