PREVIEW: Bags: Inside Out, Victoria and Albert Museum

The V&A is set to explore our ongoing fascination with handbags in a major exhibition devoted to the accessory.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Redman/AP/Shutterstock. THATCHER Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher waves to members of the media on returning to No. 10 Downing Street from Buckingham Palace after a visit with Queen Elizabeth II on THATCHER NO. 10 DOWNING, LONDON, United Kingdom.

The Victoria and Albert Museum will present an exhibition devoted to the accessory from designer handbags to despatch boxes, vanity cases to military rucksacks, it is set to concentrate on the function, status and craftsmanship of bags.

Bringing together designs from Mulberry to Karl Lagerfeld, statement
handbags worn by Margaret Thatcher to Sarah Jessica Parker, the
heritage of Hermès to the streetwear of Off-White, and an exclusive look
inside the world of the factory and atelier; Bags: Inside and Out will highlight our ongoing fascination with the accessory.

The display will open with a section that examines bags as a practical object designed to hold our personal belongings. Exhibits in this section will include a large embroidered burse used to protect the silver matrix of Elizabeth I’s Great Seal of England, a gas mask bag owned by HRH Queen
Mary during the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s red despatch box and Vivien Leigh’s attaché case.

Meanwhile, the second section of the exhibition will concentrate on the central role of the bag in celebrity culture as well as its notoriety amongst the political and societal elite. Featuring a Hermès ‘Kelly’ named in honour of Grace Kelly and a ‘Lady Dior’ handbag named after Princess Diana, the exhibition will explore the powerful and influential world of celebrity endorsement.

The final section of the display will examine the experimental forms created by designers and the bag’s role as an opportunity
for artistic collaboration as seen through the design process. Meanwhile, the exhibition will also look to the future with designers experimenting with innovative and environmentally sustainable materials including a Stella McCartney backpack made from recycled ocean plastic waste and a bag crafted from decommissioned fire hoses by Elvis and

Talking about the exhibition, Lucia Savi, curator of Bags: Inside Out at the V&A, said:”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. These portable, yet functional accessories have long fascinated men and women with their dual nature that combines private and public.”

Bags: Inside Out will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum until the 12th September 2021.

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