The Rich Can Smell Guillotines a Mile Away
Ludicrously Capacious Bags and the Death of Flashiness
Why? Because she’s brought a ludicrously capacious bag.
What’s even in there, huh?? Flat shoes for the subway? Her lunch pail?
I mean, Greg, it’s monstrous. It’s gargantuan.
You could take it camping.
You could slide it across the floor after a bank job.
-Tom Wambsgans, Succession
Now, If we thought for even one moment that micro-mini bags were fading out of style– we thought wrong.
In the opening scene of Succession’s season four premiere, Tom Wambsgans launches into a hilariously cutting monologue over Cousin Greg’s date and her shockingly out-of-place bag.
The camera cuts over to her, Bridget: standing awkwardly in the crowd, a gigantic Burberry crossbody bag lurching from her hip.
The Burberry bag in question: this Medium Title Vintage Check Two-Handle Bag, retails for $2,890. It’s expensive. It’s a luxury brand, a luxury bag– and a year ago, when we were in the midst of Logomania, it would’ve been the clear choice to bring to the birthday party of your local Billionaire.
Now, not so much– and that’s the difficulty with operating in high society. The goal posts for “respectability” are always shifting. What was once, only a couple of months ago, considered a necessary display of wealth is now suddenly tacky and obscene.
Bridget’s bag choice does prove she has money (at least 3k of disposable income at one time), but not enough to stop people looking down on her anyway. Shouldn’t she have known that understated, smaller bags are what’s IN these days?
One is expected to meet the exact line of ostentation without ever crossing it– and one should closely follow trend reports to know just when this line moves, which it does often.
If you compare the sartorial trappings of Succession to other “Rich Family” shows of the past, the differences are stark. Dynasty– which was basically the Succession of the 80’s, was full of loud, brash colors. Every shot was filled with sequins, drama, ruffles and flair– Joan Collins bathed in a hazy glow, sparkling clip-on earrings dangling from each ear.
In Succession, the fashion is minimal, understated, slightly boring– somewhere between The Row and Eileen Fisher. It’s emblematic of a shift in the public consciousness: a rise in what TikTok trend forecasters have coined “quiet luxury”-- or what I call: “expensive, overpriced basics”. Regular looking clothes made with (allegedly) higher quality materials and sold at an absurdly inflated price point.
This trend is not new. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, no one wanted to be perceived as wealthy– lest they be pushed under another guillotine! So, you see Fashion in this period move away from the pastel, feather-plumed, silk ribboned robe a la francaise of the mid-1700s and into frocks with a more muted, neutral color palette– made from fabrics like wool or cotton. Clothing at this time was moreso used as a vehicle for individual expression than a way to indicate your social status.
We’ve seen this sort of drastic change in fashion many times throughout history. Most recently in the early 2010’s following the 2008 economic crash. With over 2.6 million Americans losing their jobs, flashy logomaniacal goods were considered gaudy and tasteless. Tides shifted away from a mainstream obsession with figures like Paris Hilton and Carrie Bradshaw and into a more “pull out the guillotine” mindset.
With this, trends again became more subtle and minimalistic. Logos disappeared from the front of shirts and bags and dresses and reappeared smaller, and more inconspicuously, on the label inside of a garment.
Today, in the wake of COVID layoffs, a job market that has yet to bounce back and an increasingly worrying housing crisis, the American public is not too keen to celebrate the wealthy and powerful.
Which brings us to shows like Succession, where we see Shiv Roy wearing dresses from British High Street brands that realistically look like they could be from Old Navy. The daughter of an, albeit fictional, Billionaire looks indistinguishable from any other Plain Jane you’d see down at your local Kroger grocery store– and that is by design.
But this won’t last forever. Fashions change, the wealthy drift back towards louder, more fantastic couture– and this will happen quicker than you’d think. These days, trend cycles move at hyperspeed. With the ubiquitousness of social media like Tiktok and Instagram, the public is oversaturated with content surrounding a specific style or trend. When you’re inundated with a certain image- it’s easy to become quickly bored of it.
Just look back on the trends of this past year: We did 90s, we did Y2K– and now we’re breaching into a 2010’s space. All in the span of 12 months.
So don’t throw away your Gucci Monogram Diana bag just yet! It’ll be back real soon.