Fashion 

The Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag Is Forever

Even after 20 years, the classic handbag has continued to retain its cult status.

By
14,158 Hypes

The Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag Is Forever

Even after 20 years, the classic handbag has continued to retain its cult status.

It’s been almost two decades since I first laid eyes on the Balenciaga Motorcycle bag. It was 2004, to be exact, and the bag was hooked in the crook of Mary-Kate Olsen’s arm. The paparazzi shot in question was taken during the zenith of the Olsens’ NYU years, when the twins were the epitome of downtown cool, and the Motorcycle, their emblem. I was 13, and from behind the screen of my family’s desktop computer, I coveted the bag feverishly. Nearly 20 years later, the Motorcycle, now called the City, still holds the same pull — and not just for myself, but for generations of fashion fans.

Designer Nicolas Ghèsquiere launched the Motorcycle bag in 2001, near the beginning of his 15-year-long tenure at Balenciaga. The bag, crafted from supple black lambskin and with rugged hardware details, was initially created as a runway prototype. Only 25 were manufactured, and fresh off the Fall/Winter 2001 catwalk, the bags were gifted to a handful of models, editors and friends of Ghèsquiere. Among them were Vogue Paris’ Carine Roitfeld and Emmanuelle Alt, stylist Marie-Amélie Sauvé, and of course, model Kate Moss. One season later, with the fashion set’s seal of approval, the bags went into production. But that was just the beginning.

Despite the bag’s associations with the Olsen twins, it was actually Kate Moss who launched the Motorcycle to It bag-dom. Throughout the early aughts, the supermodel remained a devotee to her 2001 Motorcycle and was frequently papped wearing it — with UGGs and low-rise jeans — around London. The sturdy, unbranded accessory was a departure from the teensy, logo-emblazoned It bags of Y2K, like the dainty Dior Saddle and Fendi Baguette. Across the pond, in New York, the style caught on. And in 2004, Mary-Kate picked up her own version in mint green.

Much has been written about Mary-Kate’s Motorcycle bag. (The actor-turned-designer has, after all, been toting it around for nearly two decades.) The bag carried Mary-Kate through her NYU years, where at one point — as Twitter fans are keen to point out — it survived a wine spill (or two.) A 2006 W Magazine article described the bag in all its dingy glory: covered in “pen marks and even a chewed-up piece of gum,” so grimy it “look[ed] almost gray.” When the interviewer commented on the bag’s worn-out state, Mary-Kate replied, “It explains my life.”

From the mid to late 2000s, the Motorcycle was a bona fide tabloid staple, snapped hanging on the elbows of aughts It girls including Lindsay Lohan, Sienna Miller, Nicky Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Nicole Richie, who owned the bag in blue, green, ivory and Tweety Bird yellow.

By the 2010s, the bag’s buzz had fizzled, but it hadn’t been entirely extinguished — especially among a new crop of It girls. In 2011, newly Oscar-nominated actor Rooney Mara wore hers in classic black. Two years later, fledgling model Kendall Jenner followed suit.

Then, in 2016, over a decade since its debut, Mary-Kate resurrected her iconic mint green Motorcycle. Now entirely threadbare and a pale pistachio, it was a harbinger of things to come. Fashion editors and Olsen stans alike were quick to prophesy the second coming of the legendary bag. Four years later, Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia launched the Neo Classic, breathing new life into the 2000s Motorcycle with modern proportions. It was a matter of time — September 2021, in fact — before vintage versions began cropping up on the sidewalks and front rows of New York Fashion Week.

Balenciaga’s latest reimagining of the iconic 00s bag has ushered the Motorcycle back to the tabloids, and perhaps more importantly, to the tops of our social media feeds. Launched for Pre-Fall 2021, Le Cagole distills the rugged spirit of the beloved carryall — signature hardware and all — into a compact and curved, Insta-friendly package. Last summer, Bella Hadid was one of the first to be spotted carrying the croissant-shaped bag — in Paris, appropriately enough. During her whirlwind tour de Couture Week, Julia Fox accessorized her denim Schiaparelli tuxedo with a Cagole as jet-black as her signature eyeshadow. Alongside Kim K, the bag starred in Balenciaga’s recent campaign.

Although Le Cagole has captured the current zeitgeist, fashion fans are still coveting — and clamoring — for the real deal, the archival Motorcycle City styles of the 2000s. According to a report by Rebag, the City was one of the platform’s most-searched bags between November 2021 and January 2022, up a staggering 475% from the months prior. After 20 years, two decades since I first caught sight of Mary-Kate’s iconic pistachio purse, the cachet of the Motorcycle remains as hard-wearing as the bag itself. It bags may come and go, but the Balenciaga Motorcycle is forever.


Zoë Kendall is a writer and editor specializing in fashion and culture.

Read Full Article
Share this article

What to Read Next

Balenciaga Introduces Its Newest It-Bag, the Lindsay
Fashion

Balenciaga Introduces Its Newest It-Bag, the Lindsay

A follow-up to this year’s hottest Le Cagole bag.
6,224 Hypes

Instagram Style Roundup: Balenciaga Bag Edition
Fashion

Instagram Style Roundup: Balenciaga Bag Edition

Fashion inspo to double-tap and bookmark.
2,825 Hypes

Would You Buy These Extremely-Worn Balenciaga Sneakers for $625 USD?
Footwear

Would You Buy These Extremely-Worn Balenciaga Sneakers for $625 USD?

Meet the Paris, the latest kicks from the fashion house led by Demna.
48,266 Hypes


Givenchy's Kenny Bag is the New Couture It-Accessory
Fashion 

Givenchy's Kenny Bag is the New Couture It-Accessory

Arriving in block-leather and embellished iterations.
1,770 Hypes

5 Fresh Makeup Ideas for Your Spring Break Getaway
Beauty 

5 Fresh Makeup Ideas for Your Spring Break Getaway

From rhinestones to graphic eyeliners, you’ll want to try these looks.
3,518 Hypes

Beate Karlsson's AVAVAV Joins the Metaverse With Four-Toed Boots
Fashion

Beate Karlsson's AVAVAV Joins the Metaverse With Four-Toed Boots

With a virtual puffer jacket to match.
2,919 Hypes

Apple Rumored to Release 15-Inch MacBook Air
Tech

Apple Rumored to Release 15-Inch MacBook Air

The 13-inch model could receive a larger screen as well.
11,905 Hypes

Lisa Says Gah's Dakota Flatforms Will Be Your Go-To Spring Sandals
Footwear

Lisa Says Gah's Dakota Flatforms Will Be Your Go-To Spring Sandals

Nonbinary model Jeffrey Prada models the trendy footwear.
5,353 Hypes

Cardi B Is Making Her 'Baby Shark' Debut
Culture

Cardi B Is Making Her 'Baby Shark' Debut

With her husband Offset and their daughter Kulture.
6,077 Hypes

Britney Spears Says Watching 'Euphoria' Was Like Meditation
Culture

Britney Spears Says Watching 'Euphoria' Was Like Meditation

“I suddenly felt all my anxiety go away,” the star shared.
3,215 Hypes

Snoop Dogg Confirms BTS Collaboration
Music

Snoop Dogg Confirms BTS Collaboration

“It’s official like a referee with a whistle,” the rapper said.
29,119 Hypes

Olivia Rodrigo Takes Responsibility for Breakup With Joshua Bassett
Entertainment

Olivia Rodrigo Takes Responsibility for Breakup With Joshua Bassett

Bassett was hospitalized with heart failure after the release of “drivers license.”
24,039 Hypes

Kehlani Announces Release Date for New Album 'Blue Water Road'
Music

Kehlani Announces Release Date for New Album 'Blue Water Road'

This singer released the single “Little Story” last month.
825 Hypes

The Most Subversive Designs by COMME des GARÇONS' Rei Kawakubo
Fashion 

The Most Subversive Designs by COMME des GARÇONS' Rei Kawakubo

She’s your favorite designers’ favorite designer.
3,896 Hypes

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Keep updated on the latest news.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.