“Edgy. But politely edgy.”
That was the brief for a day of concept tests for leather accessories designer Shen London for a forthcoming campaign. Which, aside from ruling out pictures of starved models on street corners wearing nothing but a clutchbag (so noughties…), is a pretty nice brief to get.
There were limitations, of course.
My initial idea, perhaps influenced by every boy’s desire to pursue a career in pyrotechnics, was to douse bags in kerosene and set them alight. That would’ve been expensive.
Then I wanted to freeze them. But I had only one copy of each design (ice and hand-finished, hand-stitched leather don’t mix well).
And I wanted to drown them. Same problem.
So I did everything that wouldn’t kill them and that wasn’t the not-even-politely-edgy product photography trope of “clutchbags doing nothing on a white background”.
Clutchbags wrapped in Bhutanese prayer flags, clutchbags in ticker-tape parades, clutchbags in twilight (which looked more like clutchbags in a nuclear holocaust), clutchbags with kinky plastic… Some of it worked, some of it (as you’d expect from concept tests) worked “less well”.
So I present to you: clutchbags as the font of female domestic violence, clutchbags for party girls, clutchbags daydreaming, clutchbags via Mad Men, a clutchbag homage to Arthur C Clarke, St Elmo’s Clutchbag, and — why not? — two biros standing in for something substantially more valuable.