When actress and singer Jane Birkin famously met former executive chairman of Hermès Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Paris to London in 1984, and complained about how she could not find a bag suitable to carry her belongings and to fit her style and needs as a young mother, he was inspired to sketch while on the flight; this bag, named after Birkin has become one of the most iconic and celebrated handbags in history and is featured in the show. It was eventually donated by Birkin for an auction to support the fight against AIDS in 1994 and was acquired in 2000 by Catherine B, Hermès and Chanel bags collector and owner of “Les 3 Marches” boutique in Paris.
No less iconic is the Mulberry Bayswater, which was launched in 2003. Designed by Nicholas Knightly, the Bayswater unites the very best of Mulberry’s craft skills and heritage influences. Supermodel Kate Moss was one of the bags first celebrity fans and has carried many different styles and colors over the years – including the example that will feature in the exhibition. The company Mulberry, we learn was founded in 1971, creating luxury lifestyle goods that playfully interpret heritage and celebrate intelligent creativity.
The handbag, this functional and portable accessory, as a representation of changing taste and cultural identity, as a symbol of power, personal statement, and political message, this exhibition comes to offer a new understanding and insight into the function, status, design and making of bags across the world and throughout history.