The Linear Neutrality of Saint Laurent’s Sac de Jour

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Styling by Agata Belcen

Is it possible for a handbag encapsulate the minimalism of the contemporary gallery space? Saint Laurent’s pleasing white leather Sac de Jour appears to, argues Hannah Tindle

TextHannah TindlePhotographyChris RhodesPhotographic EditorHolly Hay

Saint Laurent Sac de Jour

Dove white and black calfskin with bonded leather lining and black chrome hardware, 12.5" x 9.8" x 6.4"

The achromatic quality of white is associated with neutrality and fresh beginnings; reminiscent of the spotless margins of a blank canvas simply begging to be scribbled upon, or a new page to be filled with thoughts. So it comes as no surprise that the linear walls of contemporary art spaces are habitually coated with fresh licks of white paint, providing a backdrop for the autonomous essence of artworks to be revealed. Art historian Alfred H. Barr Jr. – appointed as the first director of New York’s MoMA in 1929 – pioneered the roots of this gallery model, revolutionising the manner in which art could be displayed by championing the modern exhibition space as a minimalistic vessel.

Despite frequent disapproval amongst critics and theorists, the clinical aesthetic of the “white cube” has endured the world over as a neutral receptacle, placing emphasis upon the formal and conceptual qualities of art objects and new media alike. The clean lines forming the rectilinear leather structure of Saint Laurent’s Sac de Jour transform a handbag into a gallery maquette; a neutral accessory to be worn with almost any ensemble one desires, and a space to be filled with a plethora of personal objects – from the sculptural attributes of a hairbrush to the painterly potential of lipsticks.