Review Round Up: Bags: Inside Out, Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s new exhibition aims to capture our fascination with the accessory. Here’s what the critics have had to say about it…

(c)Victoria and Albert Museum

The Observer: ***** “In the past, I have sometimes criticised the V&A for the way its blockbuster fashion shows have a tendency to make visitors feel as if they’re in a shop, albeit a vast and extremely upmarket one – a deadening effect that may, or may not, be attributed to the influence of their big-label sponsors. But it seems that the months of lockdown have taken their toll not only on its latest exhibition, Bags: Inside Out, which has finally opened, having been delayed twice by the pandemic, but on me, too. Wandering its seductive displays, my fingertips tingling with covetousness, I rather enjoyed the sense that I’d unaccountably stumbled on the world’s best accessory store.”

The Independent: “Regardless of the fact that bags have seemed obsolete for so long, Bags: Inside Out still feels relevant, and it will almost certainly have you scouring the web for your next accessories investment. Who knows? As we finally emerge from this pandemic, one of the deadliest in history, maybe that investment will come to act as a historical signifier worthy of being in an exhibition itself one day.”

Evening Standard: *** “While Bags: Inside Out isn’t comparable in wow factor to something like the V&A’s 2015 Alexander McQueen epic, it is nonetheless a magpie-delighting deep dive into the world’s most important, bonkers and beautiful bags. Just remember not to leave yours in the cloakroom.”

The Telegraph: ***** “The V&A’s enthralling history of bags across the centuries tells a fascinating story about what we find precious.” “One thing history – and this exhibition – has taught us though: our handbags adapt as we do, and keep us company no matter what life throws at us.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Walking around the exhibition, some of us may be delighted to discover the first ‘Birkin’ bag ever made and loved by Jane Birkin herself – it shows residue of adhesive from the stickers she liked to apply. Others may get emotional at the sight of the global it bag, the Fendi ‘Baguette’ worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City. Others may be mesmerised by the refinement of tiny clutch bags made of silk, platinum or diamonds.”

Bags: Inside Out will be on display at the V&A until the 12th September 2021.

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