When postcards and polaroids were the way to share memories and exotic places were still unexplored, travel was something exclusive, exciting, romantic. That excitement and romance could be folded neatly and packed into a little leather hardcase, and plastered with stickers like mementoes of places been and things seen. To this day it doesn’t matter if it’s an elegant overnight travel case to take a girl from city to country, or a rectangular piece of monogrammed luggage to carry onto a train or plane, there’s a definite vintage nostalgia to a structured carry case and connotations of travel that go with it.

With fall 2012 fashion revisiting many an era past, it’s not really surprising that luggage styles have made it to the runway in lieu of handbags.

Luggage handbag styles on the runway

Louis Vuitton’s fall 2012 runway was propped with vintage-style round cases. In true lady-of-luxury style, they were carried not by the models but by conscientious bellhops. Marc Jacobs’ structured accessories for LV came in reptile leathers and traditional colours – with the addition of some bling to their handles as a reminder that they may be vintage-inspired, but they’re firmly planted in the glitz of the modern day.

round luggage handbag
Round luggage cases at Louis Vuitton F/W ’12

Honor’s fall 2012 collection had a vintage mood that was matched by hardcases as handbags. These had a feminine innocence; less about careless adventure and more a feel of young girls growing up and heading out into the world, belongings packed and train a-waiting on the platform. The femininity of Honor’s dresses keeps these from feeling too strict or corporate.

suitcase as handbag
Hardcase handbags at Honor F/W ’12

Hermes was another brand to hark back to their luxury leathergoods heritage, reinventing the structured briefcase as a day-to-day bag with shoulder strap. Paired with long trench coats the mood at Hermes was a little bit secret agent but very much luxurious.

briefcase shoulder bag
Structured briefcase bags at Hermes F/W ’12

Structured hard cases: the shapes

It’s more about the mood than a specific shape, but here are a few of the key styles to look out for:

  • Vintage style round cases or hat box styles
  • Miniature rectangle suitcases
  • Briefcase styles that are more luxury than corporate
  • Vintage style travel cases (usually rectangular, deep and with handle on top, used for carrying toiletries as opposed to clothing)

structured carry case

Vintage cases: hunting an original

Still just a minor blip in fall 2012s trends, you won’t see every girl carrying her suitcase as a handbag. That’s part of what makes this micro trend such a neat one to pick up on. It’s also a trend where the charm and character of an original piece can’t be undervalued. Something a little battered and faded has the authenticity of world adventures, not to mention that if it’s good enough to have survived the decades the quality makes it worth the purchase.

There are plenty of stores around the world dedicated to vintage luggage. Bentleys in London is stocked floor-to-ceiling with authentic vintage luxury leather goods from the likes of Louis Vuitton and Goyard and definitely worth a visit. For more affordable options scour Etsy online – you never know what you might find.

luxury vintage luggage
Luggage at Bentleys, London

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