Ready for a Cinderella Moment? This Glass Handbag Is a Perfect Fit

Glass slippers might be the stuff of fairytales, but glass handbags? Artist Joshua Raiffe has made them a reality, and they're far less delicate than you might imagine, but just as dreamy.

Ask any celebrity (or their stylist), and they will tell you that choosing the right gown for a red carpet is crucial, but the accessories can make or break an ensemble. The iconic image of one such pivotal item is easily brought to mind: Cinderella’s glass slipper on a red-carpeted staircase at an event of sartorial importance rivaling the Oscars. Although the fabled shoes were a fairytale creation, they established the possibility of glass as a medium of wearable sculpture — a norm-shattering concept that glass artist Joshua Raiffe has realized in the blown-glass Peanut handbag.

If this totable vessel looks familiar, you’re likely picturing the viral bags from Coperni’s Fall 2022 runway show in Paris, designed by Heven’s Breanna Box and Peter Dupont and crafted by Raiffe. Box and Dupont, talented multi-hyphenate designers and glass-blowers themselves, tapped Raiffe’s expertise to produce the Coperni bags, which were first carried on the runway by Gigi Hadid and later picked up by Kylie Jenner, Doja Cat (who wore one on the Grammys red carpet in 2022) and other fashion devotees who dared to sport a potentially breakable appurtenance.

“Most of the bags weigh about two and half pounds, and they’re actually pretty sturdy,” says Raiffe, whose glass-blowing practice is based in Brooklyn, New York. “They aren’t invincible, but they’re stronger than you’d think.” In fact, a video of the artist repeatedly tossing one of his bags outdoors has been viewed more than three million times on Tik Tok, a counterintuitive display that mirrors the spontaneity ever present in Raiffe’s practice.

Raiffe glass handbag
A video of Raiffe repeatedly tossing a glass handbag outside has been viewed more than three million times on Tik Tok.

The tension between fragility and strength in Raiffe’s work is strikingly illustrated in this bag, whose seamless gradation of blue to ruby-toned glass is one of the artist’s favorite color schemes. Its crystalline hues suggest a gemstone waiting to be plucked from the earth, and its sinuous form is a testament to the elegance of blown glass. Whether set against a minimalist backdrop like this caped Tom Ford column gown or a more sculptural Issey Miyake dress, which highlights the bag’s own curvature, its shape and translucent vibrancy will ensure that it holds its own at any marquee event. “It’s not an everyday bag,” says Raiffe. “It’s for a special occasion when you want to turn some heads and look a bit extra.”

Conceptually “extra,” perhaps, but the Peanut is one of Raiffe’s tamer designs. “It’s a snowball effect,” he says. “I draw out the general concept, but the process establishes the result. You have to let the glass dictate the form.” This approach has produced shocking and eccentric results, including handbags with glass spikes, curvaceous “hips” (as he lovingly calls them) and intricate carvings. The bags in his new Gumstuck series feature threads of contrasting glass stretching across the handle to resemble — you guessed it — pulled chewing gum.

Although he’s carved out a singularly chic niche, this isn’t the type of work Raiffe set out to create. “I’m not a fashion designer or a fashionista,” he says. “I fell into this from being an artist. It’s motivating because I’m making something that won’t just sit around. The bags take on their own life without you. It’s a living thing after you give it up, and there’s a whole performance aspect to it.”

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