The history of handbags

In Museums on November 25, 2009 at 8:08 am

Saw a great exhibition this weekend at the Antwerp Fashion Museum all about the Delvaux fashion house, Belgium’s leading manufacturer of luxury handbags. I know, handbags, who’s interested in that, right?

It was actually a really cleverly thought through exhibition with a great design, which allowed visitors to wander through the history of the company at their leisure. I saw just as many ladies gawping at the bags as I did chaps looking intently at the striking design of the space (and the photos of pretty models). And it was about much more than just bags – the way in which fashion has responded to changes in the way we travel, technology, surrealism, with changing materials. And even how branding and advertising have morphed over time, yet still staying true to the principles of the founders of the company.

Charles Delvaux owned a luxury travel goods business in Brussels (founded 1829, the year before the revolution which led to Belgian independence and thus older than Belgium itself!). Over the last 180 years they have gone on to produce travel goods – most famously bags – of incredibly high quality.

The exhibition used one of my favourite interpretive devices – the timeline – to great effect, placing key handbags in line with the development of the company.

And here’s a great way of displaying all the individual components which need to be individually cut to make one simple-looking bag.

The show gave me not only a sense of how these bags are made and the respect Belgians have for the brand (the royal family carry them) but also of the way a design house has interacted with European design history since the early 19th century. Well worth a visit.

(Open until Feb 2010, Entry €6.)

  1. […] great mock-ups of advertising and promotional material from the last 150 years. I blogged about it here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Announcing the 2008 AAM MUSE Awards – call to […]

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