There are two types of people in the world: those in favor of the Louis Vuitton bag that fictional style icon Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) gave her assistant Louise (played Jennifer Hudson) in the first "Sex and the City" movie and then — well, everyone else.
The bag's likability (or lack thereof) has been a topic of conversation among fans since the film premiered in 2008. The overall consensus is that Bradshaw should've gotten her beloved Louise from St. Louis something a bit more timeless; others' pure disdain for its colorful and somewhat gaudy appearance trumps any and all concern with practicality.
However, after some self-reflection, growth — I was 14 the first time I saw it — and a bit more context, I have admittedly converted from the camp of the latter, and I'm here to make a case for my controversial take.
Let's start off with some background on the bag in question: Louis Vuitton's Motard Firebird debuted on the brand's Spring 2008 runway. It was eventually produced in two eye-catching color ways: the yellow, black and pink "Neon Noir" seen in the movie and a mix of yellow, pinks and greens dubbed "Pastel."
The limited-edition Marc Jacobs-era style was designed in collaboration with artist Richard Prince, the famed photographer and painter known for his abstract designs, use of bright colors and copious amounts of pop-culture portraits. (In more recent times, he's made headlines for his "Instagram Art" project.)
The well-sized silhouette is constructed with the storied maison's monogrammed motard velvet, as well as patent leather with contrast stitching and candy-colored resin stones along the exterior. Inside is a luxurious silk lining and concealed compartments to store your smaller essentials.
Despite its artistic origins, many on social media have concluded that the bag itself is simply unattractive... to put it lightly.
In a 2019 post, resident "Sex and the City" experts Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni, the duo behind Instagram's preeminent account about the original show, @everyoutfitonsatc, had this to say about the... situation: "You know when two really hot people f*ck but their baby is NOT cute? This purse is kind of like that, because we have no idea how a collaboration between two creative powerhouses, Richard Prince and Marc Jacobs, could result in something so unfortunate."
After opening up the conversation on my own Instagram stories last year, several of my followers went as far as calling it "hideous," saying that Louise would have been better off with a tried-and-true classic, like a Neverfull tote or Speedy duffle. Others insinuated that Bradshaw would have never carried it herself — so why buy it for JHud?
While beauty is absolutely in the eye of the beholder, let's consider the facts: Both the bag and the movie came out the same year, meaning the style was current season — and knowing what we know about Carrie, an avid consumer of fashion who happened to work at Vogue at the time, an in-season Louis Vuitton bag designed in collaboration with an iconic artist would be right up her proverbial alley.
If you've seen the movie (which, if you're here, I’m assuming you have), you know that from the moment we're introduced to St. Louise from St. Louis, it's made clear that she has had a penchant for Louis Vuitton and other luxury handbags. As a result, the dedicated fanbase is committed to the idea that the first-time owner, multiple-time renter (courtesy of Bag, Borrowed, Steal) should "start out" with something more practical. My response to that is: Because she's such a fan of the luxury brand, why not gift her something as unique as the Motard Firebird? Everyone between here and the Midwest will have a classic monogrammed style — if given the chance, why go with the safe option when you can wear a masterpiece on your arm?
Stylist and jewelry designer Carla Rockmore who, thanks to her eclectic wardrobe and helpful outfit tips, has been dubbed the real-life Carrie Bradshaw by TikTok, admits that she doesn't hate the bag — however, she concedes that it's definitely tricky.
"I don't think the bag is ugly — I think it's difficult, like a rebellious teenager might be," she says. "[It] has a lot of restrictions. Had I been Louise from St. Louis, I would've preferred the more classic Capucines for an everyday bag."
"The Motard steals the show and takes a bit of work," she continues. "It won't seamlessly fall into a wardrobe, but with a little effort, it would be fabulous."
For those wondering just how to wear the bold style, Rockmore offered this nugget of advice: "Let's start with an oversized wool tent dress in whiskey that skims the floor. Pair it with chocolate brown lug boots and a rich floor length hooded cashmere cardigan by The Row. The look is weighty. There's no fuss about it. A modern-day medieval traveler, with a fabulous statement bag that holds all its worldly possessions."
Aesthetics aside, the bag has lived on in the resale market — and proven to be quite the commodity.
Fashionphile has seen 14 Motard Firebirds come and go on its platform, each selling "well below the original retail price of $5,400," according to Stephanie Wallin, a procurement specialist at the luxury resale company. Still, they've "flown off the shelves," so to speak, with some selling quickly for $2,000 to $2,400 in the last few months.
So, as some have argued, Louise might not be able to resell at a higher price — but she wouldn't have to worry about whether it would sell.
"It's still a very rare item that is highly sought-after to this day, mainly due to the nostalgia surrounding it," Wallin says. "For a Motard Firebird in excellent-to-new condition, with the matching luggage tag accessory, Louise could expect to sell for anywhere from $2,400 to $3,700, which is the highest approximate price point currently."
Plus, it wouldn't sit on a resale shelf for long: Motard Firebirds "are typically snapped up in 30 days or less," Wallis adds.
Knowing what I know today, I couldn't help but wonder if we were all too quick to judge the bag. With nothing to go off of except for appearances — and a slew of iconic styles in the six-season run to compare it to — was the contempt for this new design inevitable? When pitted against heavy-hitters like the Dior Saddle bag and Fendi baguette in a movie most don't even consider canon, it was no wonder the Motard Firebird, no matter how exclusive, seemed like an outlier. But after countless streams of the first movie, 13 years and one thriving career in fashion, I feel comfortable saying that I was wrong about this unique style. And if you're still not convinced, at the very least one should be able to appreciate the handbag for what it is: a piece of wearable art.