Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Handbags at dawn!

Handcrafted is always worth the time & effort.
Whenever I visit a new city I try & see something unexpected, so whilst in Amsterdam I went to the Museum of Bags & Purses with Gabrielle. It seemed only fitting to have a bit of a girly day before the fair. It turned out to be a fascinating gaze into the past from a completely different angle. 
The museum was very informative with wonderful displays & examples of bags & purses appearing in other art forms as well.
Seeing the delicate hand finished details of many of the bags & the accessories that went with them reminded me of the beauty of a well made, hand crafted object can really delight the senses.
If you could see how small these lace flowers were you would be amazed. The care taken to make them would take patience & concentration that would be nigh impossible to find nowadays I wager.
The top of a handbag could be a thing of wonder, with so many themes here. I must say the foxes were my favourite. 

I went to an exhibition at The Hayward Gallery many years ago of things made by people in asylums at the turn of the century mainly.  One work was by a woman who  had embroidered her handwriting obsessively. At the time I was mesmerised. There is something very pleasing about beautiful handwriting & even moreso when stitched so carefully. 

Of course a stark reminder & well chosen display with this Olympic clutch. I saw a lot of plastic naff trinkets on sale throughout the Olympics, but never something as groovy as this, with every bead stitched on by hand. This woven beaded bag is from Germany 1928, quite eerie when I saw the date. 
We started at the top of the stairs going back in time & working our way down this lovely staircase. 
More beautiful handwriting, nicely finished with stamp & postmark. As an avid letter writer (yes I write about 3 letters a week to friends & family with my favourite Lamy fountain pen) I think this clutch would suit me fine. However, for those of you who know me, I would never fit anything into such a small purse, I'm more of a Mary Poppins lady where bags are concerned. (Not through choice I hasten to add)
Then the fans, only two of them but from the 1930's, an era  adore for its style, depicting how the other half lives...

Even the ceiling was utilised in one room, with these ghostly bags suspended above us, lit to dramatic effect. It is curation like this that inspires...
Although there were a couple of bags with birds on them I thought the arrangement of these feathers was spectacular. What was astonishing how so many of the bags could be used today, without the least hint of being out of fashion. Why is this?
Once again the care taken to vary the displays really made for a great visit. Each room had a different feel, taking you forward in time. By the time we got to the turn of the century the nostalgia worked into this arrangement with the backdrop of the train station left the bags & their contents to create the hustle & bustle of the platform during a busy day. By putting lots into one space you are encouraged to take longer to try & catch every detail We didn't want to miss a thing. 

Even the plastic ones became jewels lit from below like little wedding cakes. How practical a bag is is not the issue, but how amazing it looks!



Sadly this camera bag (see what I did there) was in a very dark case. Unlike many of the visitors I refused to give in & use my flash so this is as good as it got. (Massive pet peeve when people do this as it is a sure fire way to help things fade quicker) I think it's a snuff box.
Then came the cute & creative stuff. At first I thought, aaah a tea party, but no these mice are playing poker!

Practical? No. Fabulous? YES!
Like a big jelly really...
Now for the clever stuff by arty farty types, which I of course loved. Above is perhaps my favourite bag in the whole place. The simple rendering of an amazing idea had me dreaming of a whole range like this with wire shapes & a draw string pochette in the centre. Can you imagine a briefcase, satchel, rucksack, shoulder bag....amazing!
The further deconstruction here was great too, but not a great way to hide your purse. 
Not a favourite, but thought the photo was nice, despite being out of fashion (finally) the cupcake.
If you haven't had your 5 a day head to the handbag museum! There was something quite disturbing about this giant veg, but did make us smile.
Utilising other objects, to have other uses ( I am currently seen wearing a bracelet that used to be a steel rule & an earring that was once a sugar tong) like this swimming cap. 
Animals are always favourite decorative themes, but this cat looked very manky & made us laugh A LOT!
Then the dog had us in stitches with his hilarious expression.

The museum cat made an appearance as we stopped our tour for a glass of rosé to keep things civilised. 
Next to us was another lovely object, this time a ceramic lady in a bell jar, whats not to like.

The rosé did not last very long. Happy days...

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