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Friday, 2 November 2012

Handbag heaven

And now Dear Readers, my promised follow-up to previous story on The Handbag Museum of Seoul.    
Impressive from the start, this purpose built 10 story building (which cleverly resembles a handbag in shape itself), houses the worlds largest public display of bags, purses, clutches... you name it, they have it ), I say largest public display Dear Reader, since they obviously haven't looked inside my wardrobe lately)! 
Showcasing over 300 items, which date back to 1500 and chart the development of the form (for it must be close to high art) right up to Alexander McQueen examples of recent seasons. 
Masterminded by high class handbag producer Simone and overseen by fashion maven Judith Clark, this permanent museum extravaganza chooses to display these sartorial treasures set off against bodyforms produced by my old chums at proportion london. 
Of her use of these bust forms Ms. Clark comments "with their pale calico covering and abstracted calico heads (they) have become to me something of a blank canvas. They are busts which do not have features that place them in a particular time and space. They have no chiseled cheekbones or the drawn-in hairlines of contemporary retail mannequins. These mannequins are designed as though a conservator had plucked their standard bust out of the archive and started to work on it, creating a context for each particular bag" 
As if the creation of the museum where not enough Dear Reader, Judith Clark has also written an accompanying book entitled Handbags: 'The Making of a Museum', in which she charts the process and photographs many of the treasures in mouthwatering detail. Not since my days as a coat check girl have i had the opportunity to peek inside so many well groomed reticules to behold lining and hidden pockets galore!

Shown below, in lavish detail are some of the plates from the book - which is obviously a must have for all fashionista and pocketbook pervs! Click here for more details about the book

Shown above: French Gladstone Bag,  c1880 - 1885 

Shown above: British Evening Bag, made in rare shagreen c1930-1939 
Above left image - French, c1968, Pierre Cardin.
Pierre Cardin made his name in the 1960s with his space-age fashions. His uniform-inspired, body-skimming garments were made using newly manufactured or unusual materials, including vinyl, chain mail, triple gabardine, ‘wet look’ leather and plastic discs. Courrèges, Paco Rabanne and Emanuel Ungaro also experimented with futuristic designs. This was the decade when youth and slimness were the twin ideals of fashion. Short miniskirts and dresses, and the use of novel materials and construction techniques reflect the trend for innovation and visual impact in design.
Above right image - French, c1996 Bum bag, Viviennne Westwood for Louis Vuitton
For centuries, belts, chatelaines and tie-on pockets have kept precious items close to the body in order to ensure their security. During the 1990s a new design became fashionable – what became known as a ‘bum bag’. It was comprised of a simple unstructured zip-closing purse affixed to a belt.
Left image -  British or German, belt  bag, c1870
For many centuries women in Europe wore small personal items on chains attached at their waists. Securing possessions close to the body meant there was less chance of theft, hands were freed and accessibility improved. By the late 1820s the term chatelaine had come to describe the clasps or chains from which various items – whether useful (a toothpick or needlework tools, for example) or decorative (cameos) – could be suspended. The finest designs were made from gold or silver; cut steel offered a less costly alternative.
Right image - British, tie-on pocket, c1760
'Lucy Locket lost her pocket, Kitty Fisher found it / Not a penny was there in it, Only ribbons round it.’ These verses from a popular nursery rhyme were well known in eighteenth-century Britain. Detachable tie-on pockets first emerged around 1650 and continued to be used into the early 1900s.
Shown above, these two bags (d. 1800's) are made from highly unusual materials for their time – wood and tortoise-shell – making them among the rarest items housed within the Simone Collection. They are also unusual in design, since by the early 1800s the reticule had largely replaced the bag as the receptacle of choice.

Alongside this amazing collection of hand luggage, an insight is afforded the visitor into handbag production itself (perhaps a reflection of the passion that led to the commission of the newly built museum building by SIMONE: a luxury handbag production company) with many tools of the trade displayed and craft techniques explained.

Images and background information courtesy of Simone Handbag Museum.

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