Words by Dino Bonačić
tHe wORLd Of cHiCAs aLmODóVaR
(AnD TheiR BagS)
From bejewelled clutch bags to straw totes, we’ve got one to suit every character
The drama! The colour! The glam! Yes, I’m talking about KOIBIRD’s carefully curated collection of handbags as perfect sidekicks in the cinematic adventure of your life. With the seasonal campaign taking inspiration from Pedro Almodóvar’s rich oeuvre, it’s impossible not to draw parallels between KOIBIRD’s glitzy purses for SS22 and some of the strong female characters synonymous with the work of the legendary director.
Almodóvar’s films often rely upon feminine power to lead their stories, as they present women as the focus of the narrative, however big or small their role is. In his own words, Almodóvar sees women as “more vivacious, more direct, more expressive, with a lot less of a sense of being fearful of making a fool of themselves.”
And isn’t that exactly what we expect from our bag of choice, too? It’s supposed to push the look forward and present the most carefree and fun version of ourselves, regardless of its size. In my eyes, the bag is always the star of the show – and so are those iconic women that form Almodóvar’s kaleidoscopic portfolio of characters.
So, if they had a KOIBIRD Carte Blanche, which bag would each Chica Almodóvar choose? Join me on this journey of discovery as I try to decode the personalities, stories and looks of these cult heroes of Spanish cinematography.
Pepa in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) as Staud Tommy Beaded Bag
Complex, chaotic and wears prints oh so well. Amongst some pretty wild company, Pepa Marcos is the indisputable protagonist of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, one of Almodóvar’s first international hits. Admittedly, she’s got quite a lot going on in her life, but that never stops her from looking chic – even when wearing a red tropical shirt. With Staud’s multi-patterned Tommy Beaded Bag in hand, Pepa can embrace all layers of her personality in defiance of being labelled as desperate. And, as she proves in the final scenes of the film, she doesn’t need anyone but herself to feel complete. Just like Staud’s Tommy.
Andrea Caracortada in Kika (1993) as Published By Coin Purse
Out of his whole opus, Kika must be Almodóvar’s most stylish film. It’s no surprise, as Gianni Versace himself consulted on the film by creating looks for the titular character. But the fashion favourite whose style really pushed the boundaries is Andrea Caracortada, the outwardly eccentric TV show host who isn’t afraid to push boundaries. There’s a whole selection of outrageous looks Andrea wears in the film, perhaps most notably when dressed as a Mugler-esque reporter with a camera strapped to her head. The one thing that could complete this futuristic look is the sculptural coin purse from Published By, which could hold a couple more of her – or your – secrets.
Bruna in I’m So Excited (2013) as Jessye Satin Bag
Okay, I’m So Excited might not be the most classic nor the most appreciated example of Almodóvar’s filmmaking, but it’s camp as hell. Most of its plot, enriched with plenty of dark humour, is set in an aeroplane full of unhinged personalities. The absolute showstopper is Bruna, a prudish lady who seems somewhat timid and simple at first, but reveals herself to be an absolute wildcard upon further inspection. Cue Gedebe’s Jessye Satin bag – a classic green pouch shape that escalates thanks to its multi-coloured bedazzled chains. Unfortunately, the bag does not guarantee psychic powers like Bruna’s yet you can’t help but fall in love with both as the fan favourites.
Janis in Parallel Mothers (2021) as Mehry Mu Terra Two Toned Raffia Tote Bag
It’s next to impossible to choose just one of Penélope Cruz’s Almodóvar heroines for fashion inspo. So why not consider her latest, Janis Martínez Moreno of Parallel Mothers. She appears stylish and rational in her Dior slogan tee with perfectly-imperfect hair, while having the ability to hold some pretty major classified information. Without spoiling some of the exciting plot twists of the story, Janis represents the meeting of style and substance. Mehry Mu’s raffia tote reflects her personality while also having enough space to carry most things a new mother might need. There’s even a cross-body strap, for when you need your hands free – baby or no baby.
Becky in High Heels (1991) as Benedetta Bruzziches Venus Petite Crystal Bag
Beware of serious glamour. Just like the distant mother figure of Becky del Páramo, this sparkly Benedetta Bruzziches clutch is considered the star of every room she finds herself in. Embodying the extravagance and allure of the 1980s, they’re both performers at heart who have more important things to think about than living according to someone else’s rules. Becky is also a queer icon, with a whole drag act developed after her style. In High Heels, Becky sparkles throughout and the only thing that could add to that power look of hers is a crystalised clutch that fits all her beauty essentials.
Lydia in Talk to Her (2002) as Benedetta Bruzziches Whetherstorm Handsewn Handbag
What’s more badass than a strong female thriving in a traditionally masculine role? As Lydia González, legendary Spanish musician Rosario Flores plays a matador in Talk to Her, another fine example of the complex relationships Almodóvar paints through his films. While the plot might not be kind to her life, Lydia’s intricately embellished costumes are a clear style highlight. Their abstract yet artisanal essence is captured in the galaxy-printed Benedetta Bruzziches purse, with swirls on the plexiglass handle replicating the shapes of adornments on Lydia’s uniform. Subversive in its expression of beauty, this bag might not be for everyone, but it will definitely be everything to someone.