How Succession’s ‘ludicrously capacious’ handbag stole the show
Our favourite (fictional) grownup nepo babies made a reappearance this week in the hotly anticipated season four premiere of HBO’s Succession. What the esteemed crop of Emmy nominated actors didn’t know, though? That they’d be outshone by a Burberry bag, and not even a particularly good one.
Let me break it down for you, just in case you haven’t seen the episode (where have you been?), or perhaps you just want a reminder of Tom Wambsgans’ searingly acerbic take down. During episode one of Succession’s season four, the last dance, half of the main cast are in attendance at Logan Roy’s birthday party and Cousin Greg and Tom Wambsgans (of ‘You can’t make a Tomlette without breaking a few Gregs’ fame) are discussing Greg’s date, who he has rather boldly brought along as a plus one.
Greg’s date, Bridget – affectionately nicknamed ‘Bridget Randomfuck’ by a member of Logan’s inner circle – is then eviscerated by Tom for her choice of handbag. “Because she’s brought a ludicrously capacious bag,” he tells Greg, “What’s even in there? Huh? Flat shoes for the subway? Her lunch pail? I mean, Greg, it’s monstrous. It’s gargantuan. You could take it camping. You could slide it across the floor after a bank job.”
The takedown heard around the world has set the internet alight and reinforced just how good Succession’s writing really is. But what really makes it is the choice of bag – a $2,890, two-handled Burberry tote in the brand’s classic tartan check pattern – and how it’s worn: by the shoulder strap. Eesh.
“The bag stood out for me straight away,” says Savile Row based tailor and image architect Alexandra Wood, “it basically enters the room before she does. It’s quite big and bold for the event in question, so it really signifies ‘I’m trying to fit in with everyone else in here because I’m wealthy,’ but actually it had the complete opposite effect.”
This is the first key point, for anyone who thought the “ludicrous” aspect of the bag was it’s authenticity. It’s likely a real Burberry – Greg is the type of guy to date European aristocracy now, guys, not fake Burberry buyers – and she likely did drop £2k on it, but this is worth absolutely nothing to the Succession crowd, who thrive on “stealth wealth” dressing and IYKYK labels. Logos, patterns and brash, obvious displays of wealth are uncommon, with the occasional exception of Kendall Roy’s accessories (that 9kt gold Rashid Johnson necklace from season three, a few pairs of Gucci trainers – not the cheugy ones, though) but that’s just Kendall being Kendall.
As real as the Burberry may be, it’s also one of the most copied patterns in the world of fashion, and if something can be copied, it’s worth very little to the ultra-rich. “Most of the people in that room don’t wear brash logos or labels because people know now that brands like that can be ripped off,” Wood explains, “and it comes across as too ‘try hard’, whereas luxury, discretion, no showing of labels but a beatifully cut suit, with well chosen fabric and accessories – that’s far more classy.”
The antithesis of Bridget in this episode would be Naomi Pierce, a media heiress who looks perfectly at home in her Proenza Schouler knit tank and white, wide leg trousers, paired with barely branded Tom Ford sunglasses and pearl drop earrings. Her whole outfit costs around the same as Bridget’s bag, but who looks more at home in a crowd of high net worth individuals? There’s no contest.
“With stealth wealth, people want things that money can’t buy,” says Wood, “so with the Burberry, everyone knows where that’s from. With unbranded pieces, there’s inquistiveness around it, people want to know who made it, it’s more like an art piece, there’s more intrigue and inaccesibility.”
Which is why Wood insists that Bridget would have been better off with an unbranded bag – even if it wasn’t designer. This was a sentiment echoed by Twitter users, with one commenting: “The fact that it was Burberry. The visible print. The size. The model of the bag… everything was just perfectly awful. The way she would’ve been better off with a tasteful little thing from Mango.”
God forbid any of the Roy family find out you’re wearing Mango, but at least they wouldn’t be able to tell where it was from at a one mile range.