Dec 6, 2019
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Handbags at the ready: V&A introduces new fashion exhibition dedicated to our favorite accessory

Dec 6, 2019

London's V&A Museum is set to launch an exhibition devoted to handbags next year.

Horse chestnut bag and purse by Emily Jo Gibbs, 1996, - Photo: V&A

Titled "Bags: Inside Out," the show is being billed as "the UK's most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the ultimate accessory." It is set to open its doors on April 25, 2020.

Featuring statement bags owned by everyone from Margaret Thatcher to Sarah Jessica Parker, the exhibition will examine society's long-standing fascination with the bag, be it military rucksacks or celebrity 'It bags.' 

Highlights include a gas mask bag owned by HRH Queen Mary during WWII, Winston Churchill's red despatch box and Vivien Leigh's attaché case. A striking Louis Vuitton trunk from the early 1900s will also feature, alongside a Stella McCartney backpack made from recycled ocean plastic waste and samples and prototypes from the UK luxury brand Mulberry.

Around 300 objects will make up the exhibition in total, which will be divided into the three sections -- 'function,' 'status and identity' and 'design and making.'

"From a lavish 16th century burse made for royalty to the everyday tote bag, this exhibition offers an understanding and insight into the function, status, design and making of bags across the world and throughout history," said Lucia Savi, curator of "Bags: Inside Out" at the V&A, in a statement. "These portable, yet functional accessories have long fascinated men and women with their dual nature that combines private and public. By exploring their continuing importance in our lives and as part of the history of design the exhibition highlights the V&A's mission to illuminate the past and inspire designers of the future."

The exhibition is the latest of several major V&A heavyweight fashion exhibitions held in recent years, including the blockbuster shows "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" (2018), and "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" (2015).

"Bags: Inside Out," which is sponsored by Mulberry, will run from April 25, 2020 through January 31, 2021. 

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