The Story Behind Balenciaga's Iconic Motorcycle Lariat Bag by Georgia Gordon
The Story Behind Balenciaga's Iconic Motorcycle Lariat Bag
The Story Behind Balenciaga's Iconic Motorcycle Lariat Bag

The Story Behind Balenciaga's Iconic Motorcycle Lariat Bag

Words by Georgia Gordon

Designed by a young Nicholas Ghesquière back in 2000, Balenciaga’s Motorcycle bag has had an iconic reign like no other. Toted on the arms of celebrities in the noughties, the Motorcycle Lariat bag has been pictured
on the likes of the Olsen twins, Emanuelle Alt, Kate Moss and Carine Roitfeld to name a few. We revisit the Motorcycle’s early days and what makes this
unsuspecting It bag so special and why it is having a moment all these years later.

Emmanuelle Alt, Marie-Amelie Sauve and Carine Roitfeld with their Balenciaga Motorcycle Lariat Bags


The story goes that the executives at Balenciaga didn’t see potential in Ghesquière’s invention at first, but after Kate Moss saw the prototype on the catwalk (once Ghesquière convinced the execs to let him send a few down the runway) and requested one for herself, they were put into production. In fact, a number of the models who walked that day asked the same thing. They
all thought the bag was thrifted and asked Ghesquière where he sourced it because they all wanted their own. Had it not been for them, the Motorcycle Lariat may never have come into fruition. The executives’ hesitations toward the Motorcycle stemmed from the fact that the imperfections on the leather on the bag were untouched, with every wrinkle and line clear as day, giving the bag
an already worn-in appearance (along with its structureless silhouette). The leather on a Motorcycle bag was (and still is) thin, yet durable and soft, with chunky hardware, a matching cosmetic mirror, braided handles, and tassels attached to the zips. It was anything but minimalist and chic, like the 90’s had strived for just years prior.  When asked why he thinks the Motorcycle became so successful, Ghesquière simply tells Womenswear Daily, “No logo. Very light. Very effective”. Well-known for its durability, the Motorcycle was designed to be beat up and tossed around, with the effects of such onlyimproving the bags exterior presence. In a 2006 interview with W Mag, Mary-Kate Olsen brought along her iconic ‘Seafoam’ coloured motorcycle bag, which was described by writer Marshall Heyman as being ‘dingy’. Olsen’s bag had seen better days, with Heyman writing that the bag was adorned with pen marks, purple stains, and even a piece of chewed up gum was stuck to it. Deemed ‘the toughest It bag’ by Vogue, we certainly think it has earned that title judging by Olsen’s beloved model.  According to Ghesquière; “It was a new fresh thing, but it looked like an old, good, friendly thing”.

Mary Kate Olsen with her Seafoam Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag, circa 2000s

Since its release, the Motorcycle has been reinvented in a number of different shapes in sizes; the First, the City, the Velo, and the Town to name a few. It has seen itself turned into a clutch, wallets, bit-sized versions, and drawstring sack versions. Most recently, the Motorcycle has been reimagined in a croissant-like shape with a longer handle, named ‘Le Cagole’. 

The Motorcycle Lariat bag has seen a recent resurgence. Photographers, it-girls, and editors alike were all spotted toting Motorcycle bags, with Irina Shayk’s stylist Marc Eram telling Stenstein, “I’m bringing it back if it’s the last thing I do”. With the noughties fashion’s increase in popularity as of late, and the bag’s timeless durability, we can’t say that we are surprised by this news. As big fans of the noughties, Nicholas Ghesquière and his beautifully durable brainchild, we are thrilled at this news here at IRVRSBL and hope that the Motorcycle’s reign never ends.