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The term "handbag" first came into use in early 1900's and generally referred to hand-held luggage bags usually carried by men. These were an inspiration for new bags that became popularized for women, including complicated fasteners, internal compartments, and locks. With this new fashion, jewelers got into act with special compartments for opera glasses, cosmetics, and fans.
The 1920's saw a revolution in fashion with varying hemlines and lighter clothing. Bags no longer needed to match outfit perfectly and rage was for stylish lady to carry a doll dressed exactly like herself, complete with matching bag for her minature companion! The discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb inspired Egyptian art on purses. The 1940's saw new austerity in clothing, including handbags with war effort in mind. Metal frames, zips, leather, and mirrors were in short supply so manufacters used plastic and wood. The 50's saw rise of important designer houses including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes and 60's saw breakdown of old notions of classical and rise of youth culture.
Copy is most sincere form of flattery and, if so, Kate Spade, Gucci, Coach and Dior must be very flattered! There are many replica handbags flooding market (just visit Canal Street in New York City!). Some of these "designer fakes" even carry label of Company they are imitating while others just have signature "C" or "G" without label.
What's in future of handbags? My personal prediction is more individualized bags and interesting fabrics. What do you think? Send me an e-mail with your own personal prediction for future.
I have been fasinated by handbags my whole life and have studied the origins of the bag extensively. My mother sewed handbags for me and I learned this fine art from an early age. My collection includes every conceivable purse in all shapes and sizes - the more unique the better. Currently, I own an online handbag store at Henrietta's Handbags and plan to launch a new line this Spring called Naughty Girl Bags which will range from the sublime to the outrageous.