17 July 2014

The Secret History of the Handbag by Meredith Etherington-Smith

From the earliest practical containers to the star handbags of today, The Secret History of The Handbag is a comprehensive gallimaufry of the handbag through the ages, put together in words, contemporary illustrations, cartoons and photography: this is the handbag in all its diversity, luxury and desirability.

This completely unique and beautiful volume offers a rich trove of illustrations and photographs of handbags and their iconic owners through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. From the reticules of the l8th Century to the mesh bags and chatelaines of the l9th century and from Japanese into to the contemporary designs of the 20th Century,the history of the handbag is also the social history of the times in which these exquisite, beautifully designed models were created. Every major couturier in the early l920s, from Paul Poiret to Chanel and Vionnet to Schiaparelli created handbags to go with their outfits and The Secret History of The Handbag shows these creations accompanied by the fashion illustrations and fashion photographs of the time.Handbag designs were inspired by real women – notably Grace Kelly and the famous Kelly bag – as well as by events in the real world, such as Schiaparelli’s gas mask bag – and in more recent times this tie-in with the famous and the photographed has grown every more important. Nowadays a handbag can be the foundation of fashion fortunes and certain designs, such as the Hermes Birkin are as famous in China as they are in the rue de la Paix. (PR mat)

The book is available to buy on-line at Thames & Hudson .

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