Art of the Handbag – Crazy Beautiful Bags PDF by Clare Anthony


Art of the Handbag – Crazy Beautiful Bags
By Clare Anthony

Preface 7
Introduction 8
Alexander McQueen 14
Arnoldo][Battois 18
Azumi and David 22
Bea Valdes 26
Chanel 34
Cydelic by Choryin 38
Dafne Balatsos 42
Debra Gavant 44
Emily Jo Gibbs 52
Hester van Eeghen 56
Inés Figaredo 60
James Piatt 68
Jamin Puech 72
Jérôme Olivet 76
João Sabino 80
Judith Leiber 82
Judy Geib Plus Alpha 90
Kathleen Dustin 92
Kathrine Baumann 100
Longchamp 108
Lotus Arts de Vivre 110
Louis Vuitton 114
Lulu Guinness 118
Marchesa 124
Mary Frances 128
Masaya Kushino 138
Moschino 140
Natalia Brilli 144
Olympia Le-Tan 148
Priscilla Snyder 152
Timmy Woods Beverly Hills 158
Acknowledgments 160

A handbag is a personal container that holds and protects one’s necessities, enabling the wearer to keep one or both hands free. At least that’s my definition. But on a deeper level, a handbag is also a fashion accessory, a vehicle for expressing the wearer’s personality, taste, and station in life.

As an artist, making a handbag is a form of personal expression. It’s a way to exhibit my ideas and skills even though someone else will wear it. And even though my living comes from making and selling my purses, I feel as though I am exchanging gifts with my customer, giving her the ability to carry a beautiful thing.

I am often asked, “Why purses? Why don’t you make sculptures?”—implying “real art.” The first reason is because one night about fifteen years ago, I suddenly woke up, sat up straight, and thought, “A purse . . . sculpted out of colored polymer . . . what a fabulous idea!”

The real reason, though, is because a sculpture just sits there collecting dust. You aren’t supposed to touch it. But a purse is functional: you engage with it, open it, touch it, examine it. Every time you open your handbag to pull out your lipstick or phone, your life is enhanced by this exquisite, finely crafted container. And there is something compelling about being able to open and look down into this container you have with you—a place where you hide the most important and cherished things in your everyday life.

Making something functional also provides additional rewarding challenges to me as an artist. After coming up with a really exciting idea (and they don’t always come in the middle of the night), I have to spend quite a bit of time engineering how the purse opens and how that opening works with the design. I also have to consider how it hangs on the wrist or the body, how durable it is, and how large a rounded interior has to be so that a smart phone can fit into it. Actually, the engineering is as exciting as developing a new series of designs.

So, why do we find handbags so fascinating? I’m not sure I can answer that except that as an artist, I absolutely love to think of new designs for them—and make them—and look at them—and use them.

Pouch Purse Pocket Reticule Handbag Those five words pretty much sum up the evolution of the handbag, but they don’t begin to cover the fascinating history of this most useful of accessories People have used pouches of one sort or another to carry things around for millennia One of the oldest existing pouches dates back to the Stone Age and was found in northern Italy among the belongings of the naturally mummified corpse now known as Ötzi the Iceman It contained a bone awl, flint tools, and fungus used as tinder.

In ancient Egypt, linen or leather pouches were used to carry amulets, cosmetics, and salt Roman soldiers carried bronze arm purses (opposite page) to hold coins In England, a gold-hinged purse lid (top right) dating back to the seventh century features elaborate decorations of garnet cloisonné, and millefiori glass plaques Both men and women carried bags, usually worn suspended from a belt During medieval times, members of the upper class carried aumônières (center right), small purses that were used to carry coins they (often ostentatiously) dispensed to the poor to show their largesse From the late Middle Ages, small decorated purses filled with money were given as New Year’s gifts Purses were also given by both sexes as tokens of love or as marriage gifts Even a queen might make a purse for her love, as Mary II of England did for William of Orange in 1688 On the back (bottom right), she embroidered cupids and miniature portraits of herself and her husband Pockets entered the picture sometime in the late seventeenth century Like pouches and purses, pockets were worn by both men and women—but with a difference Men’s pockets were sewn inside the seams of their clothes, while women’s pockets were flat pearshaped bags that tied around the waist (top left).

Usually, a woman wore two pockets, one over each hip The pockets were tucked between her petticoats Slits in the skirt and the outer petticoat allowed her access to the pockets, in which she could carry personal items such as a coin purse, a handkerchief, keys, and sewing supplies Luckily, the voluminous skirts and petticoats of the time made it easy to conceal the pockets, no matter how filled with possessions.

Then, at the end of the eighteenth century, came the French Revolution and a radical change in fashion Suddenly huge skirts were out, replaced by Grecianstyle dresses with columnar shapes and empire waists Not only was the silhouette of the dress impractical for wearing concealed pockets, but also the translucent linen and muslin fabrics used to make it As women weren’t willing to give up carrying their possessions with them, their pockets came out from under the skirt and took the form of small drawstring bags called reticules (bottom left), after reticulum, the Latin word for “small net ” Since reticules were revealing what had previously been concealed in women’s underwear, the bags were subject to mockery early on and were sometimes referred to as “ridicules ”

Even when full skirts came back into style, women continued to carry their bags In the mid-1800s, luggage makers such as Hermès (founded 1837) and Louis Vuitton (founded 1851) began to produce leather bags that were small enough to be carried in a woman’s hand, and the term hand-bag was born With the arrival of the twentieth century, the handbag came into its own In the early years, bags for the upper class remained small, and only members of the working class carried large bags Wealthy women carried different bags for different occasions or even times of the day, and evening bags in particular were lavishly decorated with fur, fringe, beads, and other embellishments (top) From there, bags branched out to encompass styles ranging from minaudières to roomy handbags, from vanity cases to practical shoulder bags Over the years, the range of basic materials expanded from fabric and leather to all kinds of synthetics, such as plastic, PVC, vinyl, Lucite, and Perspex

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