The women’s bag is absolutely the most faithful female accessory. It is practical, elegant, convenient and carries everything you need in a simple and appealing way. This, dates back to the time of the Egyptians, where the hieroglyphics depict a woman holding a bag that could be worn tied at the waist or hung from the shoulders: a sort of pouch or crossbody bag of the present day.
History shows that a woman and her purse are always good friends. Its versatility, in fact, has helped to transform it into an essential accessory, used by women since the beginning of civilization. No one knows who these women were, of course, but we know that the bag, since that moment, has become one of the symbols of female independence par excellence, because since its birth, it does not force women to ask men to bring their things.
From the 13th century, for security reasons, women’s bags were hidden under clothes. As cities grew, thieves also became more adept at robbing people on the streets without them noticing. And so it was that in the underskirts it began to sew slits to access the first pockets, which were similar to small bags hung inside the clothes.
It was only at the end of the seventeenth century that the pockets were sewn into the men's coats, as well as in their waistcoats and pants. In women’s clothes, however, it did not happen the same and women continued to carry small removable bags that were tied at the waist and tucked between the many layers of skirts (and here is the reason why in eighteenth-century paintings are almost never seen!).
In fact, these were used as modern women’s bags, but because of their small size, women were often forced to wear two at the same time.
A similar thing, for example, was presented by the Marni brand that, for the PE17 season, brings on the catwalk garments with large and wide pockets, sometimes attached to a belt and not sewn, a sort of middle way between pockets and bags in short.
After the French Revolution, however, the style of women’s clothing changed to the so-called "empire style" in which the pockets were no longer contemplated. The women of the time, no longer knowing where to put powder and coins, began to use women’s bags, which were nothing more than very decorated cloth bags. Often they were made with nets that gave the shape and a fabric that acted as a lining and prevented objects from leaving. In English they were called "reticules", a word that was understood as a contraction of "ridiculous", because men considered those a frivolous accessory.
During emancipation, the size of a woman’s bags gradually increased. If it first contained a handkerchief, a mirror and a folding fan, by the end of the 19th century its contents were much more diverse: books, cosmetics and other useful objects. And for practical reasons, even the very first crossbody bags are being introduced in this period.
Between 1900 and 1914, exotic fabrics were synonymous with practicality and the love for oriental styles also influenced women’s bags, which in this period had a purely Asian-themed design.
Shortly after the First World War the trunk is back in vogue thanks to the salesmen who used it as luggage. Initially used around the mid-nineteenth century by doctors to make house visits, this structured bag has a rigid and flat bottom with a metal top closure. From here, for some years, this model falls into oblivion again enjoying a certain popularity in the '60s, when baubles and rug bags aroused a new interest. Today, the fashion victims prefer the most elegant versions of this model such as the "Speedy Bag", the emblematic Louis Vuitton bag.
The '20s saw a revolution in fashion with variable hems and lighter clothes and especially the bags no longer had to match perfectly to the outfits. On the one hand, the Suffragettes throw crossbody bags this time composed of thin and simple skins, which became popular immediately.
On the other hand, the advent of charleston fashion and flappers also makes models of evening bags, such as clutches and pochettes, perfect for evenings in perfect Great Gatsby style.
The clutch is the mother of all evening bags, with a delicate silhouette that embodies a sophisticated and refined style. Obviously, with this women's bag model, you must resign yourself to take with you only the bare essentials! Hardly any decent clutch, can contain more than a lipstick, a credit card and a mobile phone. Its name in English meaning "grab" in fact, indicates that this model is so small that it can be carried tight in one hand.
Jackie Kennedy, during the First Lady period she was a huge fan of this handbag, so much so that, there was no gala ceremony, in which she did not appear with a clutch in the shape of an envelope.
Of this, there are several models including the rigid one as the now iconic Alexander Mcqueen bag, which stands out for its closure consists of four rings decorated with skulls. Although the most modern variant was launched in 1926 (at the time decorated with Art Deco beads), this actually has its roots in the 18th century, when documents and objects were carried in small bags of leather and silk.
Today, many are the materials of which it is composed: pvc, metal or even entirely in rhinestones for those who love the "bling bling effect”!
The pochette, however, is a rectangular bag also small size so with a maximum capacity of one/ two more things to be able to slip compared to the clutch. It usually consists of softer materials such as leather and is often equipped with a thin and short shoulder belt.
First appearing in the roaring 1920s, it suffered a fall in interest in the following decades, but around 2000 instead, it comes back in vogue thanks to the revival of this model by Louis Vuitton.
One of the more feminine and classic models is certainly the one similar to a coin holder, with a two-ball metal clasp and a metal frame that gives shape to the thick leather fabric, such as Miu Miu's pochettes.
A more captivating and contemporary design characterizes the bags by The Attico, which for this model chooses bright colors and more modern shapes.
A decade later, however, the women’s bags that will go for the most will be bucket bags. Launched for the first time by Louis Vuitton simply to carry champagne bottles, today they are also a must-have for contemporary style, thanks to their capacity and the versatility of being able to carry them either by hand or by shoulder.
In our wide selection you can really find all kinds: from the most classic, like the ones of Saint Laurent, to those with the most refined design like the one we find in the bags by JW Anderson.
It was in 1937 that the most famous bag in history was made: the Kelly. Designed by Jean-Louis Dumas with the aim of breaking the dominance of the small bag and turning it into a functional accessory. The Kelly bag is still hand-sewn with the same traditional techniques used by the company when it began to design saddles for riding. It is characterized by a trapezoidal shape, a rigid base, a small lock and the "Clochette", the piece of leather that protects the key. This owes its name (and success) to Grace Kelly, the Princess of Monaco, when in 1956, she used it to hide her pregnancy from photographers.
Let’s say that it is not really an accessory for animalists: to make these bags by Hermès in the crocodile version in fact, only the skin of the belly and jaw of the animal are used, therefore to create only one of them you need two whole alligators.
Similar to the Kelly, the Birkin bag was made in 1984. Legend has it that on a plane trip, actress Jane Birkin broke the big basket bag in which her things were.
The fate wanted that on the same flight there was also Jean-Louis Dumas, who took inspiration from what happened to create a new version of the Kelly.
The new model featured a double handle, was more spacious and had the walls toppled so becoming the favorite model of the actress and not only as Demi Moore, Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss.
Both of these women’s bags, however, launched the fashion of handbags. Characterized by extremely short handles, these can be worn either by hand or on the wrist.
Fan number one of this model in the smaller variant is Queen Elizabeth II. We don’t know for sure how many you own, but we can say for sure that you have at least one per color!
The beauty of this bag is that regardless of its size or its color is really good on everything. In fact, it goes well with both an office suit and a more casual look like jeans and t-shirt. It is also true that it is one of the most classic models, which guarantees a vintage allure even to the most modern outfits. An example of this model are the bags by Dolce & Gabbana, especially their flagship, the "Sicily Bag", inevitable in every collection. Despite changes in fabric, color and design, this handbag has always expressed the tradition and style typical of Sicily.
Things change when we talk about Off-White’s bags instead. In this case, the classic design of handbags meets halfway streetwear culture and here they are enriched with details of the street fashion scene such as lettering, graffiti or rope handles.
In the 1940s, L.L. Bean was the first brand to offer the "boat bag", in hemp fabric, squared and with two long handles, which is nothing more than what we know today as a canvas bag.
Later, in the '60s, Enid Collins signed bags still in hemp, but definitely more flashy. But it was the 2000s that saw the real spread of this woman’s bag, more specifically when Marissa, the character played by Mischa Barton in the TV series The O.C. used a canvas Chanel bag, as a school bag. Needless to say, from that moment on, most of the students in the world have thrown their backpacks to replace them with this new model. Today, for example, Marc Jacobs' bags in tote bag version made of cotton, are the flagship of the brand.
Following the wake of this trend, in 2007 the problem of global warming and other emissions of Co2, produced an eco-chic wave driving the fashionistas crazy instead, for the model in hemp by Anya Hindmarch, with the words "I am not a plastic bag". It was sold so fast that some people have gone as far as paying $300 on Ebay to get this 10 dollars’ bag.
From there, many luxury brands have understood the importance of sustainable fashion and have started to launch this handbag for women model. Among the selection of MM6 Maison Margiela bags, as well as in that of Marni, here is in fact the PVC shopper, a durable material that allows it to be recycled 100% both chemically and energetically, at the end of its use. Taking instead inspiration from the very first canvas bag, the inspiration of the bags by Yohji Yamamoto leads to the realization instead of tote bag entirely in linen.
The '50s bring a very important turning point in this sector, with the birth of the very first crossbody bag, which in the years to come, will also affect all other models.
The distinctive feature of this handbag is precisely the shoulder belt, usually in leather or metal.
It may have many shapes and sizes, but the quintessence of the shoulder strap is the Chanel 2.55, whose name comes from the month and year in which it was created. Rectangular and made of stitched leather, it has a long chain that can be transformed from single to double. Even today it is one of the most popular models, a timeless classic, suitable for both the day and the evening, thanks to its versatility and practicality and that’s why there is no fashion house that does not propose at least one model.
Among the most famous are certainly the Gucci bags, those of Valentino Garavani and the Prada crossbody bags along with those proposed by more contemporary brands such as Chiara Ferragni Collection or Pinko.
Also coming from the '50s to the present day instead arrive the postman bags that today we commonly call messenger bags. Used initially by the boys who delivered the newspapers and later by the military, this crossbody bag, has known a certain notoriety especially in the '90s, when the first pony-express used it to make small deliveries of documents by bike or scooter. Later her rebellious look won over the students, who adopted her to go to school and many other fashion brands, even the most elegant, created their own version to keep up with the times.
Very much in love with this model thanks to its capacity, many Hollywood mothers were seen around the city with messenger bags full of bottles, snacks and various accessories to spend the day away from home with their children.
A decade later, however, in the '60s we are witnesses of the appearance of shoulder bags. With a big and soft design and a half-moon short shoulder strap, they become famous when Jacqueline Kennedy starts wearing a Gucci branded one, so much so that the house decides to give the name of "Jackie Bag" to this woman’s bag. Since 2006 the brand instead decides to propose a new version renamed "Bouvier", as the maiden name of Jackie O.
Today, one of the favourite influencer’s shoulder bag is definitely the Dior Saddle Bag. Designed in 1999, it debuted on the catwalk of John Galliano’s Spring/Summer 2000 collection and the rest is history. The bag quickly became the most talked about accessory. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Sex and the City character, Carrie Bradshaw, even flaunted one in the series, and it became a defining piece for the luxury fashion house, just as it did for Fendi’s Baguette. The latter, called so for its thin and elongated shape, made its debut in 1997 and its peculiarity was the short handle that allowed to carry it under the arm just like the loaves of French bread.
As you can see, as women became more active and dynamic, women’s handbags spread so much that they became a necessary asset, starting with mothers being forced to carry accessories for their children, through the career women filled with documents, up to all the busy girls around the city and beyond.
And now that we have at least a smartphone or a tablet, the makeup kit and often much more, the women’s bag has become the key accessory of the 21st century that no one can give up!