Bags: Inside Out – an exhibition to put on the 2020 list

Margaret Thatcher’s iconic handbag, Winston Churchill’s despatch box and a World War II gasmask bag belonging to Queen Mary all to feature in major 2020 exhibition Bags: Inside Out, at Victoria & Albert Museum, in London. Over 300 from the most beloved items in fashion industry are on display.  (Photo up – Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel ‘Lait de Coco’ evening bag, Autumn–Winter 2014, Paris / Lambskin leather, metal)

Bags: Inside Out, at Victoria & Albert Museum, in London. Sponsored by Mulberry. 
25 April 2020 – 31 January 2021 | #BagsInsideOut 

From designer handbags to despatch boxes, vanity cases to military rucksacks, the exhibition will explore our longstanding fascination with the bag. Featuring innovative designs from Mulberry to Karl Lagerfeld, statement handbags worn by Margaret Thatcher to Sarah Jessica Parker, the heritage of Hermès to the streetwear of Off-White, and an exclusive look inside the world of the factory and atelier; Bags: Inside Out provides an unprecedented look at this global obsession. 

The first section of the exhibition on Function will examine bags as practical objects designed to hold our belongings. Rare exhibits on show include a large embroidered burse used to protect the silver matrix of Elizabeth I’s Great Seal of England, a gas mask bag owned by HRH Queen Mary during the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s red despatch box and Vivien Leigh’s attaché case. A striking Louis Vuitton trunk from the early 1900s will also take centre stage. 

Judith Leiber ‘Faberge Egg’ evening bag 1983, United States / Rhinestones, metal

Entitled Status and Identity, the second of the three exhibition sections will look at the central role of the bag in celebrity culture as well as its notoriety amongst the political and societal elite. Featuring a Hermès ‘Kelly’ named in honour of Grace Kelly and a ‘Lady Dior’ handbag named after Princess Diana, the Fendi ‘Baguette’ bag worn by and stolen from Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City. Thatcher’s grey Asprey handbag will be one of the leading examples of the bag as a symbol of power and the ‘I am NOT a Plastic Bag’ tote by Anya Hindmarch will be on display.

Photo by John Redman/AP/Shutterstock / Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

The final section of the show will look at the Design and Making process from sketch to sample, sewing to selling. Collaborations between fashion designers, artists and architects have resulted in innovative and often limited-edition collections such as Prada’s nylon bag reinvented by Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima, Valextra’s collaboration with Bethan Laura Wood and the ‘International Woman’ suitcase by Tracey Emin for Longchamp. 

Emily Jo Gibbs, Horse chestnut bag and purse 1996, Britain / Silk, copper wire

A look to the future will finish the exhibition with designers experimenting with innovative and environmentally sustainable materials including a Stella McCartney backpack made from recycled ocean plastic waste and a bag crafted from decommissioned fire hoses by Elvis and Kresse. 

Photography: (C) Victoria & Albert Museum, London


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