Welcome to a brand new column on Life Unstyled called Secret Life Of Bags or as I affectionately call it, S.L.O.B. With each S.L.O.B. feature, we’ll offer a rare glimpse into the very personal, usually off limits and sometimes messy world of the handbag. In this new era of living our ‘perfect’ lives for the world to see on social media, people seem to be obsessed with showing only their best side. What I’m far more interested in is seeing some of the imperfection, the mess. With each post, one daring person will let me visit their home or studio, tip the contents of their bag out and style the heck out of them. We’ll be making pretty pictures with some of our most mundane bits. Yes we will still be making beautifully styled images, but instead of featuring perfect, staged props, we’ll show you the real life miscellanea we all carry around, and find out the stories behind the stuff.
We’ll be delving into the private lives of handbags belonging to artists, designers, creatives and tastemakers. We’ll be sticking our noses into that sacred possession so many of us simply cannot live without. I had this idea over two years ago and desperately wanted to do something about it. I asked my friend photographer Sarah Hogan if she wanted to do a test shoot to play around with some of the ideas and we did, using ourselves as guinea pigs (that’s my bag on the pink background and my green legs). But then I got another book deal and a new job with Anthropologie Europe, Sarah had twins, and life just sort of exploded. The idea took a back seat. But while it sat there in the back of my mind it occassionally nudged me, whispering “You need to do this!”
As a stylist and interiors author I get to be nosy, seeing inside people’s homes and asking them lots of questions about the way they live – the good bits and the so-called bad bits they’d prefer no-one knew about. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that I love the ‘bad’ bits. I love seeing the signs of life in a picture of a home – proof that people actually live there. I rebel against perfection in my work as a stylist and my own home is certainly far from perfect. It’s that mindset that led me to this idea.
I really hope that people won’t edit their handbags when I visit and they won’t stage things in them like books of poetry, unless of course they really do carry books of poetry, in which case, ok smarty pants, fine by me! Obviously I can’t monitor this, but I hope they’ll be ballsy enough to show the world a little bit of their real life mess, and tell us why oh why they have glue sticks, their dog’s urine sample cup (empty and clean thank you very much), a rubber bull, a sprig of Eucalyptus and a handful of rocks in their bag. (Oh wait, that’s my bag…Maybe I’m the only one who is a S.L.O.B.)
All UK photography for S.L.O.B. is by interiors and lifestyle photographer Sarah Hogan, unless otherwise stated.
Next time: our very first S.L.O.B. post featuring designer Abigail Ahern, with photography at her stunning London home.