Balenciaga Bags

The handbag hierarchy is a tricky, difficult, and fickle ladder to climb. Only a tiny handful of bags have managed to grab the highest rungs and achieve classic status, and it certainly took time. (For example, the Hermes Birkin was created in the early 80's while Chanel's 2.55 first launched in February of 1955.) Magazines constantly conjure up lists of "new classics," but we often find their selections premature and standards a bit generous. After all, how many of these so-called it bags have really demonstrated a lasting demand and maintained a certain level of coolness? We'll answer for you: very few. One that weathered an early obsessive frenzy and is Still Loitering on famous arms is Balenciaga's classic motorcycle-inspired bag.

Designed by Nicolas Ghesquiere and originally launched in 2001, the satchel swept the world and is still ragingly ubiquitous nearly a decade later. If this doesn't really impress you, we'd like to offer a comparison. The other hot bag of 2001 was the Sprouse-graffiti Louis Vuitton Speedy, a collector's item to be sure, but not a bag that enjoys the same daily driver status. While we suffered from Balenciaga bag fatigue in late 2005, when you couldn't walk through a Bolthouse club without spotting at least 20 bags (some fake) in 10 seconds, recently we started feeling them again. After a quick tour through some photo archives, we realized that they never went away, hence today's story.

Kate Moss, as always, was one of the first to tote a Lariat, but we're going to give her a rest for once and start with Nicky Hilton. Seen here outside Jerry's Deli in 2004, Hilton picked a metallic Balenciaga for a double date with her sister. Sienna Miller cradled one in the crook of her elbow circa summer 2006. She's seen here, in full cashmere hippie mode, leaving her London production of "As You Like It." Lindsay Lohan's another Balenciaga devotee; she chose a white one for the 2006 opening of the store Sienna on Melrose. Last year Michelle Tractenberg carried a soft gray Balenciaga to Brett Ratner's birthday party at the Prime Grill in LA, while Mary Kate Olsen carried an oversized version into the new year.

Image of Sienna and Nicky, Bauer Griffin. Image of Lindsay, Getty Images. Photo of Michelle, Pacific Coast News.