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Confessions of a bag lady

Our deputy editor has a fashion problem...

Quirky handbags are Anna-Marie’s weakness

My name is Anna-Marie and I’m addicted to novelty clutches. And when I say addicted, I mean, I just told Kate Spade New York’s PR that I would “sell my own mother” to get my hands on her new All Aboard steam train-shaped bag (part of the impossibly delicious Orient Express collection – drops in the UK in November) – which is true, assuming that a short, 60-year-old blonde woman from Berkshire would fetch at least £290 on the open market.

In a drab world of sack dresses, taupe #normcore tunics and minimal ovoid jumpers that only look good on Scandinavian people, the novelty clutch is a reminder that there is a world beyond what is right and what is wrong in fashion.

It is a frivolous, probably unnecessary, often silly, flight-of-fancy skip into the wonderland where a bag can be a Chinese lantern, a pair of be-fanged lips, a box of Swan Vestas, a hamburger or a largish lilac unicorn, that fits neatly under the arm and can be made to cavort and prance, whenever the need might arise.

It is a magic thing, transcending the notion of accessories being fit for purpose. In our grey, conformist world of almost indecently practical satchel bags, the novelty clutch is a jewel encrusted, banana-shaped Frankenstein. It is a gloriously decadent Other. It exists for no purpose beyond pleasure.

“The kind of woman who artfully amasses a cupboard of bags is always glamorous, always neat, always exotic”

The novelty clutch is always and forever in your size.

For me, the novelty clutch is also something more; part of my own private fantasy where I have the kind of lifestyle that involves toting such an accessory quite regularly – perhaps even on a Wednesday night, instead of twice a year, at weddings, when I will invariably cast it onto the dancefloor and splash wine on it during an interpretive and drunken version of Wuthering Heights.

I have this notion that the kind of woman who artfully amasses a cupboard of bags in the shape of clouds, or fish, or a ham on the bone made entirely of sequins would not be the type of woman to spend her evenings lying prone on the sofa in a charity shop T-shirt watching Who Do You Think You Are and eating cheese; she would be always glamorous, always neat, always exotic. She would not drag an ageing Toppers tote full of old receipts, torn paperbacks and lipsticks with the lid off to parties; she would be able to be able to fit all of her essentials into a 23cm-wide Sophia Webster speech bubble.

I will never be that woman, but it’s OK, because with my novelty clutch in my hand, I can dream.

Confessions of a bag lady