Saint Laurent bags have been enjoying immense popularity in the recent years with styles such as Sac De Jour, Kate or Loulou reaching the near-icon status. But while I have been admiring them from afar, my enthusiasm for Saint Laurent bags has been relatively low. Even though elegant, they always seemed overly demure next to the bolder styles offered by houses of Gucci or Chanel. So it took me a while to finally convince myself that I needed one of these shy beauties in my collection.

As it seems to be the case with many of my bags, the Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag came into my possession only by chance. The piece I was originally eyeing was the brand’s black Lou camera bag with silverware. However, the sheer number of reviews raising quality issues, particularly concerning the stretching of leather in the zipper area, convinced me not to go ahead with the purchase. Instead, I started exploring other options.

I was still keen to get something from Saint Laurent and the perfect alternative, ticking all the right boxes in terms of available colours, size and finish turned out to be the Loulou Toy bag. Not sure why I have never considered it in the first place…? On top of that, I managed to get it at 20% discount from Flannels. A great start overall.

While the Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag is garnering attention among fashionistas, it is still, in my opinion, one of the most underrated designs on the market. Hence, in this review I wanted to share my thoughts on the merits of Loulou Toy bags and why they can be such a fantastic option to anyone thinking of investing in a classic mini bag.

Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag

Aesthetics and details

YSL Loulou Toy bags come in different colours and metal finishes. The one I opted for, as shown in this review, was a simple black version with silver matte details. Most of my black bags have golden metalware and so I wanted to mix things up a bit. 

There is nothing particularly fancy or flashy about Loulou Toy bags so they will appeal to those who prefer unpretentious and understated designs. The bag has a simple, rectangular shape and a puffy quilted finish with a chevron-like pattern. The leather used in its construction is shiny soft and supple, which gives the Loulou a nice and luxurious feel.

The front flap, adorned with a metal YSL logo measuring approximately 5 cm, is linked to the main part of the bag i.e. the trunk via a press-stud closure. The iconic YSL logo decorating the bag is a legacy reminiscing of the time when the fashion house took the bold decision to rebrand from Yves Saint Laurent (or YSL) to Saint Laurent under the aegis of a newly appointed creative director, Hedi Slimane, back in 2012/13. At present, Saint Laurent only use the YSL logo for cosmetics and accessories in ready-to-wear collections, notably bags and shoes.

Reverse side of Loulou Toy

Unlike other Loulou styles, Saint Laurent Loulou Toy has a shoulder strap made solely of leather (i.e. without any chain components), which is linked to the bag by means of metal D-shaped rings. The strap is very thin, measuring just 1cm in width, quite stiff, flimsy and, overall, not particularly appealing (about that, later). Its only redeeming feature is the fact that it is detachable so it can be removed or even exchanged for something more exciting. Photo 1, below, shows how the Loulou Toy strap compares to shoulder straps in other handbag designs.

The total length of the shoulder strap, including the chain links, is 121cm. The  bag has a 55cm drop when it hangs on the shoulder and it reaches just below my hip level (I’m 5’5). When I carry the bag crossbody, it lines up with my hip level. For those who are taller, there is an option to extend the strap by an extra inch i.e. 2.5cm. Overall, the length of the strap is quite decent so it never looks awkward or too short when the bag is carried in different ways.

Strap comparison
PHOTO 1: The above photo shows the difference in shoulder straps widths of Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag (left), Gucci Marmont camera bag (centre) and the small Chanel Boy bag (right)
PHOTO 2: Interiors of Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag

The interiors of Loulou Toy consist of two main compartments divided by a central slip pocket, as shown in Photo 2, above.

There is also one internal zipped side pocket, and four additional slip pockets, three of which are suitable for carrying credit cards. Unfortunately, the bag does not have any external storage space which I like very much in petite bag designs. However, this does not seem so much of a problem in Loulou Toy because the multiple internal compartments make up for it more than adequately. [Back to Menu]

Size and functionality

Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag is a petite design measuring 19cm in width, 8cm in depth and 15cm in height. Despite the small size, the bag can accommodate a surprising number of items. What gives Loulou a real edge over styles such as the small Chanel Boy (for review, click here) is the extra height and the width. Admittedly, it is not much to rave about but when it comes to mini bags, every centimetre matters. It certainly provides enough room to fit that extra lip gloss or a compact powder, which always come in handy, so there is no need for ruthless compromise before leaving the house.

What makes the bag particularly practical is the generous number of internal pockets, briefly mentioned above. Pockets and dividers are always useful but I have never truly appreciated their importance until I started investing in small bags. Petite styles, by virtue of their limited interiors, tend to get overfilled and are prone to clutter (well, at least mine are…). YSL Loulou Toy is different in that respect. In fact, it has more than enough compartments, making it very easy to organise essentials. It may not be a big deal to some, but personally I get quite frustrated when I cannot find something in my bag, which often is the case when belongings are squashed together to fit into a tiny space. To me, the peace of mind that comes with being able to find what I need on-the-go is a big win.

Another big advantage of the Loulou Toy is the detachable strap.  Having the option to remove the somewhat unattractive shoulder strap means that the bag can be used as a clutch too. This certainly makes the design far more versatile than other small bags, and also a far better value for money, as it can be used in many different ways. The size and shape of the bag make it a perfect, natural clutch which fits into a hand without looking awkward. The removable strap is, by far, one of the best attributes of the bag, in my opinion. [Back to Menu]

Saint Laurent bag

Fit Test

I tend to carry a fair few items with me daily so small bags can be quite a challenge when it comes to accommodating what I would consider to be “essential”. As Loulou is a rather petite style, my expectations for its capacity were always reasonably low. Luckily for me, the design turned out to be full of surprises.

As you can see in the below photos, Saint Laurent Louolou Toy bag can fit a cardholder, iPhone 11, compact powder, antibacterial gel, mints, a comb, a couple of lip glosses, a small hand cream and a mini bottle of perfumes, as well as keys. That’s quite a lot considering how small the bag is, in reality.

Fit test YSL Loulou Toy
Saint Laurent Toy bag fit test

The fact that a diminutive design, like Loulou, could provide such an ample storage was a bag revelation and something that I did not expect at all when I bought the bag. It has definitely been one of the highlights of the model and resulted in me using the bag much more than I had hoped for. Nothing to complain about if you are getting your money’s worth out of a designer purchase! 🙂 [Back to Menu]

Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag

How does Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag compare to other designs?

The purpose of this section is to  give you a better understanding on how the Toy bag compares to other small bag designs. The photos below show the difference in sizes between Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag, Gucci Marmont camera bag and the small Chanel Boy bag.

Small Chanel Boy Bag vs YSL Loulou Toy
Loulou Toy vs Small Chanel Boy bag
Loulou Toy vs Small Chanel Boy bag, side view

As you can see above, the capacity of a YSL Toy bag is marginally greater than that of a small Chanel Boy bag. While the widths are comparable, Loulou Toy offers extra room in terms of height. In practice, this means that it is much easier to accommodate “longer” items such as lip glosses or tubes of hand cream, which can be placed vertically and thus save space. Loulou Toy is also 1cm deeper that a small Boy, and its structure is less rigid, which again, translates into additional storage capacity.

Loulou Toy vs Gucci Marmont camera bag
Loulou Toy vs Gucci Marmont camera bag
Loulou Toy bag vs Gucci Marmont camera bag side view

By contrast, Gucci Marmont camera bag (for review, click here) is considerably larger, wider and deeper than Loulou Toy. It can hold a greater number of personal items and is, overall, more functional. However, the superiority of Loulou Toy over Gucci Marmont lies in the ease of organising its contents thanks to the multiple internal compartments mentioned above. While I love my Marmonts, I always struggle to find anything inside because all essentials end up piled up on top of each other and there is no way of separating them. So while not as spacious and practical as Marmont, Loulou Toy can certainly hold its own against the larger design.  [Back to Menu]

YSL Toy bag

Downsides of Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag

Loulou Toy is a very small bag and, objectively speaking, it is not the most practical in terms of sizing. However, I am not entirely sure if the size can or should be viewed as a downside because mini bags have their application and are chosen precisely because they are small. Besides, for those who like this model but need more space, Loulous are available in larger sizes too. So any inconvenience stemming from the diminutive size of Loulou Toy is just a matter of personal choice.

The second potential downside is the delicate nature of the leather used in the construction of Loulous. It was not long after I bought the YSL Toy bag when I started noticing some scratches and marks on the leather, especially on the back and the interior wall of the flap. Luckily, they are minor and the black leather disguises them quite well. In fact, the bag needs be inspected very closely to see them. Nevertheless, they are there. However, it is much easier to tolerate signs of wear and tear in Saint Laurent Louolou Toy bags when compared to other designs, e.g. Chanel lambskin bags. Loulous are nowhere near as expensive as Chanel so they pain of accepting scuffs and marks is more bearable but, obviously, no one wants to see their designer bags damaged.

Interior of the flap with scuffs
Marks and scuffs on the interior of the flap
Marks on leather in YSL bag
Scratch marks on the quilted leatherr

Another aspect of the bag which I am not a big fan of, and something I have already mentioned earlier, is the thin shoulder strap. Honestly, I find it hard to get over how disappointing it is. The skinny and stiff strap not only cheapens the appearance of the bag but also gives it a very dated look. Luckily, I don’t have to look at the unattractive strap when I carry the bag but it is hard to forget about it. It is positively ghastly and something Saint Laurent might consider improving.

Something else to be mindful of when buying Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag is the closure system.  Ok… so before I bought the bag, I did some research and found a few reviews which described the clip lock as slightly awkward and difficult to open due to a strong magnet holding the bag together. I purchased my Loulou regardless, and I am glad I did because I experienced no difficulties with the lock whatsoever. I have never struggled to open the bag nor had to pull it forcefully. The magnet is firm but anything less than that might risk the contents not being properly secured. So while I have encountered no problems with the closure, I wanted to mention it here because it seems that some Toy bags might be affected by this issue. [Back to Menu]

Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag

Value for money

While Saint Laurent Loulou Toy bag is no showstopper, it is a perfectly elegant and functional design without any bells and whistles. It is a low key, introverted style which easily compliments an outfit without stealing the limelight. The simplicity was the key reason why I chose to invest in Loulou Toy. On my fashion journey, I have found that sometimes all I needed was a minimalistic bag which could go unnoticed but still ooze sophistication and class, and Loulou matched that specification perfectly. The apparent plainness is also the reason why the bag is bound to transcend seasonal trends and will, no doubt, look as fashionable in 20 years’ time as it does today.

Ever since I got my hands on the YSL armcandy, it quickly became apparent that it would be one of my better designer purchases. It ended up being one of my frequent go-to daybags and I did not expect that at all! The versatility of the design is simply fantastic. The fact that Loulou Toy can be carried in so many ways means it can be adapted to both smart and relaxed looks and so you are bound to be getting plenty of use out if it. By choosing Loulou Toy you are certainly getting your money’s worth on a price-per-wear basis.

One additional attribute of the bag worth noting is the price point. At £880 (as of 2020), Saint Laurent LouLou Toy is not overly expensive for a designer bag and can therefore be enjoyed to the fullest without the constant worry about every scratch or scuff. What is more, many online fashion stores, such as Flannels in the UK, include YSL Loulous in their seasonal promotions meaning that you can get your hands on the bag at an extra discount, often as considerable as 20%. That certainly compensates for the few little glitches of the design.

Honestly, I cannot praise Loulou Toys enough and I believe that they stand a chance of becoming one of the most sought after and iconic mini bag designs out there. For that, the overall verdict can only be: A Five Star fashion investment. [Back to Menu]

YSL Loulou Toy held as clutch

Photos by Unwrapped.Fashion

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