As you know from my summer recap post, we spent quite a bit of time in Europe this past summer. It was a dream vacation–it really was. I was so caught up in the moments that I didn’t even think about shopping for souvenirs until we were past the first week of our travels. Thus, I have (for myself) no souvenirs from Germany or France (yes, you read that right–France!). By the time we were in Switzerland I decided I had better get busy thinking about what I wanted to buy to commemorate our vacation.
I knew I didn’t want to blow a lot of money…especially with the Euro working against us and we were traveling at peak time. I wanted “trinkets” that really represented the countries we visited. So, in Switzerland I bought a Swiss Army knife (yes, I know you can buy them anywhere but I can say mine really came from the Swiss Alps!). In Venice, I bought Murano glass jewelry for just about everyone I needed to buy gifts for and for me! Wow…that is beautiful, addicting stuff. In Salzburg, I bought a watercolor landscape of the city from a street artist featured in our travel book. In Hallstat, a grinder of salt. I was very careful not to buy the average, made in China “souvenir” just because it said Venice or Salzburg on it. So NOT how I roll. When all was said and done, I realized I was leaving Europe fairly light handed. Hmmmm….
While we traveled around I took note of many and varied aesthetics. One of the things that got indelibly etched in my mind were Longchamp’s Le Pliage nylon totes. They were everywhere. Not exaggerating. The more I saw them, the more I liked the look of them. However, we were never in the kind of store that would sell something like that. I didn’t think to look for a Longchamp store in Venice (but I did look for Alviero Martini Prima Classe-to no avail)—and our hotel was right around the corner from many big name stores (Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, etc). But I was more interested in history and decay in Venice–and Murano glass. Shopping for handbags wasn’t even in my tourist psyche (believe that if you will!). Until later.
I was aware of the Le Pliage line of bags and totes prior to going to Europe. I had read of others singing their praises (“best carry-on bag ever”). I had seen photos of them on blogs. But I had never seen one in person. It made a difference. There was something deceptively chic and simple that demanded my attention. By the time we got to the airport to fly home, I was realizing I may have missed out on something.
But not so fast. We had a nice 2 hour layover at the Dublin airport. And I had access to duty-free shopping. My stars had collided. Oh beautiful chaos.
After I downed a pint of Guinness with my veggie sandwich, I told Brett it was urgent (enter his eye roll) that I check on a couple of things before heading to our gate. I had already spied a Jo Malone store so I knew I wanted to look (smell) there as well (more on that in another post). After spending a good amount of time in Jo Malone, and maybe becoming not a little high from sniffing fragrances coupled with my downed Guinness (kidding!), I found a store that sold Longchamp Le Pliage totes. They had a nice selection of colors and sizes. Add in duty-free and a sale…well, it was a no brainer. I happily left with a deep red, large Le Pliage tote all wrapped up for security purposes. Although I did unwrap (and unfold) it on the plane, I had to wait to use it.
Once we were home and the jet lag had worn off (it took days!), it was necessary to run some errands and I decided to inaugurate the bag. It was love at first use.
IT’S SO LIGHTWEIGHT!!
(here it is in action…no, i didn’t carry the dog in it)
Although I was using the “Large” size bag, it felt like I was carrying nothing. It was very liberating. Then I found I could pack it to the gills and use it for a pool bag, a picnic bag, a market bag. Oh my goodness–this thing was turning out to be my best souvenir. I became so enchanted by this tote that I found myself scouring eBay, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, etc. looking at the other styles and sizes–and sales. Then, at some point, I got wind of the fact that Longchamp offered a personalized version.
Yes, one can design her own Le Pliage. Will the blessings not end??? The site is very user-friendly and soon I was “making” all sorts of bags; small, medium, pink, navy blue, cream and black, brown with grey, short-handled, long-handled, silver hardware, bronze hardware, initials embossed or embroidered. So. Much. Fun. All this playing eventually lead to buying one. On September 27th, I placed my order.
And then I waited forever.
Until today!!! Look what came all the way from France for a little ol’ moi:
Drum roll for the unpacking…
wait for it, wait for it…
Gorgeousness. That’s all!
I am thrilled with it! I chose gun-metal with a deep red panel (my camera is not capturing the red right…it is truly a deep red, no orange at all), long handles, embossed initials and bronze hardware. I chose this combo to compliment my other one. It is quite a bit smaller than the large one I bought. And I do believe that the “small, medium, large” you will see on the regular Le Pliage totes (like at Nordstrom’s, etc) are different is dimensions than their personalized cousins’ “small, medium, large”. For example, the measurements for the Medium size bag on Nordstrom’s website are given as: 11.75″W x 11″H x 8″D. The personalized “medium” (or Size 2) I bought from Longchamp online is 10″W x 10″H x 5.5″D. Another thing to note, off the rack Le Pliage nylon totes are made in China but the personalized ones are done in France. However, I will contest that the quality is the same.
Here they are… together at last:
Coincidentally, Longchamp is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Le Pliage. It only took me 20 years to catch on to such a great bag. They keep the line fresh and interesting by introducing new colors and limited styles by season. Keep your eye on them…you never know when you may become smitten.
Are you a Le Pliage gal already? Do you have a favorite color or size? How long have you owned one? Please share all you know!!