Dirtbag Style: Why I Rip, Trash, Deface, and Write on Purses That Cost Me Big Bucks

When I saw Cat Marnell with her graffiti-tagged Balenciaga City bag, I almost keeled over in shock. She is the only other super glamorous trashball I’ve ever come across!
Publish date:
January 19, 2012
handbags, style, designer bags, purses

I have a love/hate relationship with designer stuff. Handbags in particular. One one hand, I love the rich bitch thrill of carrying THAT BAG in the crook of my arm. On the other hand, it grosses me out so much sometimes that I’m compelled to just trash the living hell out of things I paid over $1,000 for.

When I saw Cat Marnell with her graffiti-tagged Balenciaga City bag, I almost keeled over in shock. She is the only other super glamorous trashball I’ve come across.

I really hate 'perfect' unless we are talking about my hair color. Everything else has to be off kilter for me to be feeling it.

Just the 3 dirty, trashball handbags featured here represent over $3,000 I could have in my savings account. The amount of other grossed-out ruined costly bags I have lurking in my closet would have made a nice down payment on a house. I feel sick just having typed that but I wouldn’t trade these babies for anything. (Technically I got one of the ones below as a gift, so it doesn’t really count towards the tallying of my life’s wasted dollars!)

I tricked a girl at Barney’s into NOT buying this bag so I could. It was the only one in this size/color and she was in the bag department holding it up, looking at it this way and that way, debating like crazy. As I casually loomed over her shoulder she looked at me and said “What do you think of this?” I pretended to think about it and nonchalantly answered, “It’s not my favorite color. There are so many other fun colors and you seem like a FUN GIRL!!!!”

She thanked me for my opinion, put it down, and walked away. The second she was out of sight I whipped out my credit card and told the salesgirl to wrap that shit up. She was pretty stunned, which I took as a compliment. I mean, how much bad behavior do you think she has seen working at Barney’s in Beverly Hills?

I got the bag home, called all my friends to gloat, loved it, carried it everywhere and basically considered asking to be buried with it. Then it began creeping up on me -- that unsatisfied feeling I get when looking at a new, pristine, outrageously $$ bag.

My solution was to shove it in the washing machine to beat it up. Instant character and street-worthiness. A month later, I spilled an entire frozen daiquiri into it. Doesn’t everyone put a styrofoam cup full of frozen alcoholic Slushie into their purse? Run that thing through the wash time a second time and suddenly my bag says do. not. eff. with. me.

Later I got even more bored and decided to stitch an Elvis Presley karate patch on the damn thing. Now that the handles are turning black with grime and the whip lacing is fraying like crazy, I’m really starting to fall in love with this bad boy.

I can’t decide whether to wait till the laces rot off completely, or if I should pre-emptively re-lace the handles with some sort of fluorescent leather laces.

This bag came to be when I woke up one day and realized that the Louis Vuitton multicolor monogram Murakami bags were totally ubiquitous. My cleaning lady brought me one she'd bought at a thrift store! I eventually felt like making an eco-cultural statement on high end fashion and people’s desire to attain it and "belong." (Yep. I'm guilty.) But I truly believe that all cultural revolutions start with spray paint and stencils.

Before you ask, yes it is real.

I bought this bag on a crazy whim while I was supposed to be shopping for work. I friggin’ love white bags, they’re so fresh. Plus it has red patent leather handles that I run my hands over endlessly cause I love the way patent leather feels. The designs on the bag are very old school Sailor Jerry style tattoo designs. Also it’s a Gucci collab with Rhianna for UNICEF. So I’m being charitable too, right?

It of course instantly became GROSS and dirty, so I left it outside to get even more filthy and hung glow sticks and kid’s toys and scarves all over it, then let the neighbor kid scribble on it with his tag. (Dirt is the best.) I drew the heart on the bottom myself.

I am a big fan of customization and personalization. I love street style and irreverence and not taking anything too seriously. I dislike preciousness and pretension. I want to live and laugh and run around at all kinds of inappropriate places and get my stuff dirty. I want to be able to loan my expensive bags to my friends without worry. Too bad none of them get it and don’t ever wanna borrow my filthy stuff.

When I’m gone, I don’t want people to look at my immaculately preserved wardrobe and auction it off to the highest bidder. I want it all to be dumped at Goodwill.

I have a sky blue Hermes Kelly bag that I can’t bring myself to scribble on with markers just yet, but I have started hanging toys and charms and ribbons on it. Seems like it’s only a matter of time.