Handbags at the V&A

I am not a huge handbag fan. They are useful and I have a small selection suitable for different activities – work, holiday, evening – but I have never understood the desire for lavish, designer bags with ridiculously high price tags.

I did, however, thoroughly enjoy handbags at the V&A. If you haven’t seen it yet, the exhibition runs till 16 January 2022. And, as with all V&A exhibitions, Bags: Inside Out explores beyond the pure aesthetic of the handbag looking at function, design and craftsmanship.

Victorian decorative belt bag
Everything a woman needs to get her through the day, from pill box to magnifying glass

Because of Covid, visitor numbers are limited, which gives you a great opportunity to really linger over each exhibit. Either marvelling over the fine detail or playing ‘spot the most ridiculous design’.

Chanel's Lait de Coco evening bag
Evening bag from Chanel’s supermarket inspired 2014 collection

The collection includes Jane Birkin’s original Hermès Birkin bag and one of the Queen’s neat black patent Traviata bags, as well as novelty evening bags, political carrier bags and recycled messenger bags.

Irina Laski's 1992 Fanfare handbag
Irina Laski’s 1992 Fanfare handbag

Bags can be beautiful as well as bonkers, practical or pointless. This is an informative as well as fun experience. I recommend it.

To book tickets for Handbags at the V&A click here

If you enjoyed my review of handbags at the V&A, you might also enjoy my Guide to Rye

The image at the top is of a leather clutch bag, 1935, given as a gift to first class passengers on the cruise ship Normandie for her maiden voyage from Le Havre to new York. The bag is in the shape of the ocean liner.

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