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Security Chic: the anti-terror handbag

London Independent | February 25, 2007
Jonathan Thompson and Melina Menelaou

We have seen heroin chic, guerrilla fashion and Goth making the catwalk. But spring will see the latest example of designer zeitgeist: terror haute couture.

Heightened airport security has provided inspiration for next season's most desirable accessory: the see-through handbag. Several leading designers, including Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, Fendi and Oscar de la Renta, are producing high-fashion interpretations of the transparent plastic bags necessary for carrying liquids and medicines on to planes.

Early versions, which cost from £250 to £850, have already been spotted adorning the modish wrists of celebrities such as the British singer Lily Allen and the Hollywood actress Hilary Duff.

The bags are part of a wave of security-friendly travelling accessories about to arrive on the market. These include self-weighing suitcases, belts and bras guaranteed not to set off metal detectors. Non-liquid-based toiletries including paper shampoo, solid shampoo bars and a pre-pasted toothbrush - just add water.

Designers who include Karl Lagerfeld, responsible for Chanel's £500 Naked handbag, admit that the transparent trend began as a tongue-in-cheek nod to airline security restrictions, first enforced in Britain in November. The high street is following suit, with brands including Dune and River Island reportedly about to launch more affordable versions.

Oscar de la Renta, the Dominican-born designer whose Fairfax bag adds a white leather trim to the theme, said the bags are ideal for a season in which bright colours are expected to be very "on fashion".

"I wanted to use new and modern materials to create unique handbags," said Mr de la Renta. "Juxtaposed against bright and colourfully patterned clothing, the transparent bags are a strong statement for spring."

Others, such as Stefan Lindemann, Grazia magazine's shopping editor, are not so sure. "These bags may be a good conversation starter, but do women really want everyone to see what they're carrying: their private lady things?" he said.

"They also contradict everything we're told about avoiding theft. They'll show everyone exactly where your iPod or BlackBerry are in case they want to steal them. They're quite unsafe. But they do look fabulous."



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