*this post originally appeared in my other (now inactive) blog Oh, Chic! on 29th of July, 2013, and has been mildly edited

This post includes some lengthy stories taken out of different chapters of my life.



Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris
Colosseum, Rome

Behold, people. Longchamp's famed folding canvas bags have taken over the world.

It might even be literal; I've been in Paris for almost 10 months and I've travelled to about 14 cities in 9 countries in Europe, and there was not one city where I did not spot the folding bags. They're everywhere in PJ/KL area in Malaysia too.

OK, I will admit this: I disliked the bag at first. I really did. I used to work in a mall in Subang. The mall itself was a lot colder compared to other malls, but the particular shop I worked in had set its temperature much too low so I spent half the time standing at the doorway of the entrance.

Standing at the doorway gave me access to an activity I discovered I delight in: assessing people's outfit. A majority of the shoppers were well-dressed, so I enjoyed admiring their tops and handbags and whatnots.

Of course, there were fashion fails as well. I'm absolutely not calling myself the best dresser ever or whatever, but you will agree with me that a pair of panty hose, in most cases, does not substitute for leggings, and definitely NOT for pants. I mean, perhaps the girl purposely wanted to showcase her undies..? Or maybe she's one of those people who nevah evah practices the advisable 360-degrees twirl in front of a full-length mirror before going out? And I guess the two boys she was with decided thought it was a rad fad, or something.

I can honestly tell you though that I wish I could unsee that. I found it upsetting, and it was odd how upset I was at that. I'm sure I've seen worse fashion mishaps but I'm going to ahead and declare that as the biggest style failure I've ever witnessed.
But more importantly, you have to feel at least a little sorry for her; she would have looked pretty cute with a pair of jeans on.

I remember being extremely puzzled at another thing that I thought was another style failure, and this was even more ubiquitous. Yes, those folding nylon bags. 

I could not fathom the obsession with Longchamp Le Pliage. Inititally I didn't know what it was called or what brand brought it into the world, where it came from, etc. etc.. All I knew was I had never seen a bag so plain and carried by so many people. After asking around, I found out the bag was sold at hundreds of ringgit apiece by a brand called Longchampi was calling it "long-CHAMP" at the time. My initial reaction was, "What. The?"

How could a bag so undecorated be so stupendously priced? 

I started to scoff and harrumph at every single Longchamp bag I came across, standing in the doorway of where I worked, walking around the many malls in PJ/KL and wherever else I spotted the bag. And there were a LOT of them. (PS: Obviously I was a much less nicer person back then, which was terrible, guys.)

That is, until I arrived in Paris. The home of Longchamp.

I cannot remember when exactly I discovered Paris was Longchamp's birthplace. I also cannot recall when I found out Longchamp is a French brand, hence you pronounce 'Longchamp' as the French does, which goes something like "long-SHOMPH". But it surely must have been in Paris itself.

I do remember looking at the many Le Pliage toted by the French and thinking, "Damn it HOW in the world do they make a nylon bag look so attractive???".

I think it's definitely a monumental moment when I realised this: the French cannot convince me to love the colour black and grey as much as they do, but they have somehow managed to sell me the idea of buying one Le Pliage for a few hundred ringgit. For that I say bravo to them.

And now I've got four of them. FOUR. How did that happen? Well, you should know that it doesn't help that there's a Longchamp outlet in Paris that sells Le Pliage in past season's colours for 20-25 euros cheaper than the retail price. Even without the outlet price tag, Longchamp in Paris is already retails cheaper than the ones being sold in Malaysia.

Opera House, Paris

So basically, yes, I now love Le Pliage.  Damn it, I LOVE it, and I am not ashamed to admit it. I will also not bat an eyelid if you tell me you hate the bag, because that is how much I love my four Longchamp Le Pliage.

It does go without saying, however, that Le Pliage has its pros and cons, which I will proceed to list down now.

Pros:
- Waterproof (with the exception of the leather parts, of course, but the leather is such a small part of it...)
- Roomy! Go ahead and stuff your three sunglasses, two cardigans, makeup bag and rugby ball. Look, there's still a little space left!
- Easy to clean; a clean cloth and some soapy water will do it (don't even think about going near the leather parts with soapy water)

Cons:
- Extremely casual in style; not the best to take to a fancy dinner party or a wedding event (p/s: fancy wedding events in Malaysia is when we get to truly dress up, but in traditional garbs, of course)
- Only one tiny compartment inside; you have to do some digging around for your keys/handphone/pen etc. every. Single. Time.
- The pointy ends at the bottom of the bag WILL tear (unless one of you have found a way around it?)
- For a cancavs bag, they are kind of bloody expensive


"Le Pliage" translated is "folding", or "the folding", by the way. I'm sure we non-French-speaking people are inclined to think "Le Pliage" sounds a lot more elegant when you totally ignore what it means. 

The bag is made of "ultra-light nylon fabric" and "elegantly trimmed in Russian leather". The folding was inspired by Origami, the Japanese folding art thing we school kids used to play around with in class. Longchamp stocks Le Pliage canvas bags in 12 colours every season, but I love how their outlet at La Vallee Village always carry the most interesting colours from old seasons. You can have your pick of long or short handles and the sizes vary as well. They might look the same, but even the designs could be different.

A tip: Look at the other side, the back part part of the opening of the leather flap at the opening, for the name of the design or size, which is imprinted on the leather.

Example:
Front part, folded
Flip the folded bag for the back part
Look closely and read the model of the bag: this particular one is Le Pliage "Shopping" Modele Depose, which is a relatively large one.
I wore this in the top most photo, of me in Rome, Italy, in the Opera House, Paris photo, and the photo down below of me in Brussels

Patterned Le Pliage and leather Le Pliage are available in Longchamp as well, but expect their price to be higher. The leather ones fetch up to about four times the price of a canvas one.

I've been constantly carrying two of my bags around in Paris and other parts of Europe while the other two stay in storage. I think the four will be it though, don't worry!

Brussels, Belgium
Frankfurt, Germany
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

My cousin didn't like Le Pliage. Well, at first, anyway, but more on that later. She told me once she saw it as something you could buy at any cheap night market ("Macam...bag yang boleh beli kat pasar malam lah Liyana..."). And like I said, it's OK if you tell me you don't like the bag (or if you really don't like the bag) because I used to didn't too. I think it's one those bags people will either love or hate.

But a slight happy ending to the story, for those who are reading this and love Le Pliage: weirdly, my cousin, too, became more open to the idea of carrying one when she came to Paris for Roland Garros. Only it wasn't enough to convince her to actually get one; like me, she probably needed to stay a lot longer to fall in love with the folding canvas bags. She did however purchase the cutest baby blue leather tote from Longchamp. Her mother and her sister however, purchased one each and two more for my other cousins waiting in Malaysia.

A tip: If you're visiting Paris, and you're the kind of person who doesn't give a hoot about staying "on trend" with season colours, ditch buying Le Pliage in Longchamp stores and head straight to La Vallee Village and stock up on Le Pliage in Longchamp outlet there. The rainbow of bags can be delightful to see (and you might have fun watching ladies scrambling and subtly shoving others out of the way to grab the bag(s) they want).

I say it's a perfectly acceptable mistake to pronounce Longchamp "long-CHAMP". Not everyone speaks French, or speak fashion. So if anyone gets cosy sitting on their high fashion horse, politely get them to admit that they too at one point must have seen the name "Longchamp" and pronounce the name (in their head or out loud) wrong at least once, unless maybe if the person (1) is French, or (2) learned French and knew Longchamp was a French brand. 

I'm glad I had the opportunity to come to Paris and learned the right way (or the closest thing to the right way) to say the name, and to fall in love with the bag, because the bag really is handy at times. 

I have also humbly learned to try my best to not make fun of what people wear or carry (at least not out loud, and even if I do so it will be shared quietly with my sisters Fiza and Rina and my girlfriends) because it could bite me in the back.

But it must be stated that I never have and never will mistake panty hose for a pair of leggings or pants.

So, how about you? Do you love Longchamp Le Pliage? Le Pliage could be a fashion staple: agree or disagree? Please do leave a comment, as it would make my day!

xxoo