A women’s handbag holds her wallet, lipstick, phone, and keys (to her soul). Would you want someone to look into your soul to see that it’s CHEAP or FAKE? A status bag says so much more about you than words ever will. No one will care if you’re kind, creative, or good at math if that pouch of dead cow you’re carrying around is ugly! As Sylvia Plath once said,* “Meaningful relationships and empathy fade, but material objects are eternal.”

I’m a sucker for nice, well-designed things, but I think status symbols are gross; possessing something just because it proves that you can afford it seems so silly and boring. I once gave in to the allure of status handbags in middle school when some local flea-market vendors were selling “replica” designer handbags that I believed were real. I begged my parents to take me to what I thought was a secret gateway to a high-end luxurious lifestyle, where I could trick people into thinking I was wealthy and important for the going rate of two for $25. For a while, I carried around a black nylon tote with a Kate Spade label affixed to it and felt like I was the chicest 12-year-old around, but once the sloppily glued tag fell off I saw the bag for what it really was: a really ugly, poorly made bag.

I’ve noticed a lot of celebrities being photographed carrying around this handbag by Céline, which means I’ve also noticed a lot of regular people pining over it or buying counterfeit versions. Inspired by the fashion house’s name, I decided to make my own interpretation of the Céline bag. I probably won’t be able to afford a real designer handbag any time soon, but whatever—my heart WILL go on!

What you’ll need:

  • A plain cotton tote bag.
  • Iron-on transfer paper (available at craft and office supply stores or at Amazon)
  • An inkjet printer that prints colors (if you don’t have one, ask a friend or bring your paper to a copy center like Kinko’s and upload your photo there).
  • An iron.
  • A fabric marker (available at craft or fabric stores).
  • A pair of scissors.
  • A cherished photo of Celine Dion.


How to make it:

1. Find an image of Celine Dion (or anything, really) that meets your standards; I used this one. Download it and use a photo-editing program like Preview or GIMP to resize it to fit the dimensions of your tote bag. I sized it to about 9 inches tall and 6 inches wide.

2. Insert your iron-on transfer paper into the printer according to the instructions on the paper package (some of these kinds of papers need to be loaded into the feeder instead of the tray, or fed to the printer by hand one sheet at a time). I used a paper made from cotton fiber that irons on seamlessly.

3. Print your image onto the paper, and let it dry for about half an hour.


4. Then, cut out the portion of the picture that you want to use. Position it transfer on the tote bag to your liking.


5. Follow the ironing instructions on the paper’s package. I set the iron to the hottest cotton setting, without steam, and ironed for 20–30 seconds.

6. Once your transfer has fused to your bag, let it cool, then start adding details with a fabric marker. I referenced the features of the original Céline bag and drew freehand, focusing on the strap tabs, the curving sides, and the zipper. I drew the fake zipper about six inches below the straps.


If you’re not comfortable drawing freehand, start out by drawing lightly in pencil and erase any mistakes. Then go back over your sketch with the fabric marker. Be sure to mimic the original logo:


7. Listen to this song and carry your new bag proudly.


* Not really.