Why this designer tote is the only bag fashion editors travel with
The phrase ‘modern icon’ gets thrown around a lot but the Dior Book Tote is the real deal. First imagined by Marc Bohan in the 1960s, it was part of the late creative director’s mid-century defining aesthetic that also saw the creation of the now synonymous Oblique monogram. His tenure launched a range of canvas accessories, lending to Paris’ wave of literary minded, cafe-gravitating post-grads of the 1970s (hence the ‘book’ bag moniker).
In 2018, current creative director Maria Grazia Chuiri paid homage to Bohen’s creation within her feminist academic-inspired collection – the same line which launched the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie-collaborated ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ t-shirt – recreating the refreshingly unfussy bag shape, and the modern Book Tote was born. Since then it has been updated each season in ever more fantastical and world-spanning designs, from colourful Mexican heritage fabrics, Indian embroidery, to plastic-effect leather and maps of Paris.
So what makes this the ideal holiday bag?
It’s surprisingly versatile
I took the latest version – this pink botanical design – on holiday and it stayed with me from the airport to the beach club. It’s practical yet beautiful, capacious without being cumbersome, and looks great in whatever the setting. For the airport, it sits neatly atop a suitcase, its handles perfect for being looped around the carry ons handgrip, and can be neatly packed with all of your airport essentials. It was also really handy for travelling with a child. All those extra bits and pieces can be thrown in before boarding (bottles, snacks, toys, books etc) without having to repack nappy bags or faff around making sure you have everything ready for take off – there’s just one central compartment, so you can see (and find) everything instantly. It fits seamlessly underneath a seat so everything you need in-flight is right there at the reach of a baby-laden arm.
Then upon arriving at your hotel, it miraculously turns into the ideal beach bag, ready to be stuffed with sunscreen, magazines, flip flops, and beachwear. But the real triumph is that it works for smarter beach clubs too. Emblazoned with ‘Christian Dior’ on one side, it’s a statement luxury item, one that has instant recognition, and for which waiters will fetch a little stool lest it be placed on the floor.
It has a sturdy shape
It might seem like a simple design, but the shape is a real feat of engineering. At ‘rest’, it completely retains its sturdy box shape, with its narrow top opening (I clocked it at 7cm). Although it’s wide enough to fit a laptop, as well as books, passports, even a pair of shoes, it’s very narrow, so it never feels bulky or burdensome. Unlike a bucket bag, similarly useful in its ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ mindset, the slim design keeps everything ordered and in line, like a filofax. I kept my beach read to one side, with our passports nested in next to it, and they didn’t move around or give me the usual ‘oh god I can’t find them’ panic like other holdalls. Likewise on the beach, I used a magazine as a divider and kept all of my baby’s bits and pieces to one side, meaning everything was on display and instantly grab-able.
Its size is ideal for travel
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