The bag and art are but a step apart but when it comes to shopping bags and luxury they are in different worlds. Olivier Saillard, a curator in fashion and textiles, sees only a small distance between them. He believes that luxury is no longer where one expects it, and in addition, there is a risk of overdosing:
“ To my mind, the most interesting bag around currently is worth a fortune. I’m going to surprise you. I mean the Barbès bag.”
Yes, you have heard this correctly, this does indeed refer to the plastic bag with a Scottish tartan motif that one finds beneath the apartment buildings in Pigalle.
“ And furthermore ” Olivier Saillard adds hurriedly.
“ I’ve dedicated a whole vitrine display to this kind of Barbès bag in my exhibition ‘The case of the bag’ (Le cas du sac). For a number of reasons. This Arab bag, woven using recycled materials, often found stuffed into the back of cars, would have turned any together luxury-house designer or stylist into a millionaire. As they are all looking to create a classic product. The Barbès bag is a basic traveller that roams the entire world. You find it in Marseille, in India, in South America, in China… It is the true point of belonging for the nomad. It is the cheapest in the world yet proves to have the longest life. At a certain time it even became a Scottish thing. It is universal in contrast to the commercial bag design market where sometimes forms are created from nothing.”
Impassioned and fascinated by the bag, Olivier Saillard insists that it is useless to seek the origin of the Barbès bag. And that it is reassuring to find an accessory that can simply appear because people want it and have a need for it, and not because big business has determined it. He continues:
“ Logically, the greatest artists, stylists and designers have been inspired by it: Comme des Garçons, Helmut Lang, the designer Matali Crasset and her mobile pouffe; and even choreographers.”
This is an intriging and amusing story that Olivier Saillard is happy to circulate. That an accessory can give birth to original works of art.
Delphine de Malherbe