Review: Saint Laurent Manhattan Bag

First introduced in 2019, the Saint Laurent Manhattan Bag has a sleek, structured silhouette accented with polished gold or silver hardware. While its design is indisputably informed by classics like the Hermès Kelly Bag and the CELINE Classic Bag, the Manhattan managed to capture the imagination of luxury bag buyers when interest in “Quiet Luxury” surged last year.

I added the Manhattan Bag in “Small” and “Mini” to my wardrobe last fall. I like how aptly-sized the “Small” is, but its lack of a crossbody strap was a deal-breaker–until the release of the “Mini” crossbody last year. When I realized the straps on the two bags are of the same weight and width, making them interchangeable, I bought both, and have been surprised by the different uses I am finding for them.

SIZE

Saint Laurent offers the Manhattan bag in several sizes and formats: the Mini crossbody is 7.4x wide, 5.5″ tall, and 1.5″ deep with an adjustable strap; the “Small” is 9.4″ wide, 6.9″ tall, and 2.4″ deep, with a shoulder strap; and the “medium” or standard size is 11.4″ wide, 7.9″ tall, and 3″ deep, or roughly the size of letter paper, with a shoulder strap. Also in the collection is a larger shopping bag that’s 12.7″ wide, 8.9″ tall, and 4.1″ deep, with a top handle that’s not adjustable, and an evening clutch that is 12.2″ wide, 5.5″ tall, and 1.2″ deep.

Left: “Small” Manhattan Bag with its strap at the longest setting || Right: “Mini” Manhattan Crossbody with its strap at the longest setting

The “Mini” Manhattan has one interior card slot but no other built-in organization. It holds a bit more than a toy bag could, but not meaningfully more as the bag is structured: eyewear in a soft case, a smartphone without a bulky case, a slim card case, and a small cosmetic item or two quickly fill it up.

It also works as an evening bag, as the crossbody strap can easily be substituted with a fun top handle.


The Saint Laurent Mini Manhattan Crossbody Bag can be found at Bloomingdale’s, FWRD, Luisaviaroma, Net-a-Porter, Matches, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saint Laurent, and Selfridges.

The “Small” Manhattan Bag is a more functional size at 9.4″ W x 7″ H x 2.5″ D. But it’s still not for packrats or people who like to travel with all manner of incidentals–what it does have room for are true essentials, which in my case include both glasses, sunglasses, two or three face masks, my phone, a card case, and a few extra personal items.

The Saint Laurent Manhattan Small Shoulder Bag In Box can be found at Bloomingdale’s, FWRD, Harrods, Luisaviaroma, Neiman Marcus, Net-a-Porter, Saint Laurent, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Selfridges.


Both the “Mini” and the “Small” suit petite frames, but I find the capacity of the Small Manhattan more fitting for my everyday–the “Mini” demands that I edit what I carry with a heavy hand and doesn’t leave room for an extra convenience or two.

The medium Manhattan bag is also a reasonable size but I didn’t consider it as I already own several bags with similar dimensions, like the Chanel Jumbo/Large Classic Handbag.

The Saint Laurent Medium Manhattan Shoulder Tote is available at Bloomingdale’s, Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom, and Saint Laurent.

DETAILS AND CONSTRUCTION

The push-clasp closure is easy and intuitive to operate and the gold-tone hardware accent contrasts nicely with the smooth leather. But I wish Saint Laurent innovated (a tiny bit) more on the closure or the bag shape (maybe add a touch of harmonious imbalance to pay homage to its Mondrian collection), as the design feels indistinctive to the Saint Laurent brand.

The bag’s construction and material are also middling: while the machine stitches are even and straight, the edge finishes are a bit sloppy. The base of the Mini Manhattan is especially problematic for a $2100 bag–from certain angles look like it was sewn on as an afterthought.

MATERIAL

Bags in the Saint Laurent Manhattan line are primarily made from box calfskin leather, which is boardy (i.e., stiff) and has a smooth appearance. However, Saint Laurent’s box leather, especially in darker colors, looks almost glazed under brighter conditions, and attracts/highlights fingerprints or any marks as clearly as patent leather does. But the bag is fairly easy to clean, as grime can be wiped off easily with a lightly damp cloth.

Saint Laurent also offers this bag in a croc embossed patent leather and shiny patent leather.

ALSO CONSIDER

If money, time, and patience were no object, most of us would probably choose an Hermès Kelly over bags in the Saint Laurent Manhattan collection. But for a premium bag with ready availability, consider the Classic Box Bag, which CELINE “discontinued” last year but you can still find them in good condition on the secondary market at very reasonable prices; I like it a lot more than the Triomphe Bag that CELINE is pushing to replace it.

For similar designs at more approachable price points, Sézane’s Milo/Claude bags and Ralph Lauren’s logo-detail bag are all under $500 and of good quality.

Top: Small Celine Classic Bag || Bottom: Saint Laurent Mini Manhattan Crossbody

PRICE

The “Mini” Manhattan retails for $2100, the “Small” is $2990, and the “Medium” is $3400 in box leather. While Saint Laurent has been excluded from most storewide sales and gift card events at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue, FWRD‘s storewide promotions have occasionally included Saint Laurent bags, but their selection is smaller compared to larger department stores.


You can find the entire collection of Saint Laurent’s Manhattan bags here.

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7 Comments

  1. Amy Le wrote:

    Miss ya! This was such a great and detailed review. I saw both in stores and completely agree with you, the mini is just a too small for everyday use while the small could have used a long strap. I am still on the fence about the YSL so I bought the loewe mini hammock in tan instead (https://www.loewe.com/usa/en/women/bags/cross-body/mini-hammock-hobo-bag-in-classic-calfskin/A538G13X01-2530.html?cgid=W_Cross_Body&p=51). It’s currently suiting my very casual lifestyle better and I love it so far. I’ve found that I prefer to hand carry my bags with the option to crossbody/shoulder if I need free hands.

    Posted 3.18.24 Reply
    • Elle wrote:

      I *LOVE* the Loewe Mini Hammock you picked up–a perfect encapsulation of dressy casual.

      Since you have such impeccable taste, I was wondering what you thought of the the Balenciaga Rodeo Bag; I recently pre-ordered it in the medium size but am having second thoughts–don’t know if it’s too much of ANOTHER Hermès wannabe. :/

      Posted 4.9.24 Reply
      • Amy Le wrote:

        Hiii Elle! I had to look it up since I don’t follow Balenciaga. It is, to me, a very casual Hermes lookalike but you can honestly wear any bags casually. I’m on the fence, the price point is not bad (or maybe it is since it’s Balenciaga) but it’s straddling the fence of do you just wait for the Hermes one instead or get this and like not really fuss over using it. I think it would be good for like an errands running kinda day and gives off a bit of a cooler/rock chic vibe.

        Posted 4.11.24 Reply
        • Elle wrote:

          GAH such good points. I am leaning towards not keeping but have two more weeks to finalize the decision. I really appreciate your thoughtful response. <3

          Posted 5.13.24 Reply
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Absolutely love how the Saint Laurent Manhattan Bag combines timeless elegance with practical functionality! A must-have for anyone looking to elevate their style effortlessly.

    Posted 3.26.24 Reply
  3. Lana Huzjak wrote:

    Hi there
    Is your phone pro max size ? Asking because I want to ensure it fits into the mini …

    Posted 4.25.24 Reply
    • Elle wrote:

      Hi Lana,

      My phone is the regular iPhone Pro, not the Pro Max, but I believe both fit in the mini. I’ll try to get a photo this week for you this week showing the Pro Max in the bag.

      Posted 5.13.24 Reply