Illuminating the evolution of bag designs and uses from the medieval period to today, Claire Wilcox explores varied iterations of this cult accessory, from early drawstring creations and richly worked ecclesiastical purses to large work bags of the eighteenth century and the small reticules that were designed to complement high-waisted Empire line dresses.
Increased travel in the nineteenth century brought about the leather handbag as we know it today, while the twentieth century saw an explosion of innovations, from 1930s designs reflecting the streamlined American aesthetic and the use of new synthetics such as imitation patent leather and Vynide, to the rise of the luxury designer handbag by the likes of Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, and Prada.
Written by fashion curators who spent years at the V&A, Bags is fully illustrated in color throughout and arranged chronologically. A detailed glossary, bibliography, and index conclude the book.
Claire Wilcox is senior curator, Department of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A and professor in fashion curation, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. She has curated numerous high-profile exhibitions for the V&A, including, most recently, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” in 2015.