Image of Bags (Accessories)
Release Date: 
May 15, 2017
Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by: 

You may be able to speak to the subject of “it” bags from this year’s fashion cycle, but can you speak to the subject of why and which was the “it” bag of the 16th century until the present day?

“Purses and bags have been essential to daily life for as long as people have had money or precious items to be carried.”

Claire Wilcox and Elizabeth Currie have a passion for accessories centering on handbags and their history. Most of us have always believed that the words bags, purses, and handbags are all interchangeable, but it is not true. What do you know of reticules, chatelaines, pouches, girdles (not for the body) and work bags?

Wilcox and Currie proffer an exhaustive examination and exploration of the genealogy, if you will, of that accessory we refer to as bags or handbags. The reader will possibly experience an overload of information but nonetheless it is fascinating as well as enlightening. This petite volume defies its diminutive stature with the amount of history and information it holds between the covers. As with its sister in the series, Shoes, the glossary in the last pages proves to be invaluable as a source of information as well as giving the reader a better-rounded understanding of the subject.

As has been pointed out before about books of this genre is that Wilcox and Currie  give the reader context, which in this case concerns the life at the time, fabrications and types of construction, embellishments, fashion trends, and the raison d’être for each of the styles, fabrications. Consider this a reference book, a learning experience, and lastly a way of gaining a one-stop crash course in the history of every bag that might hang from one’s hand, waist, hip, shoulder, or possibly up one’s sleeve.