preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition

design 0 shares

victoria & albert museum, london, bags: inside out exhibition holds much more than just the ‘it bags’, although these are there in spades, from mulberry to karl lagerfeld and from Hermès to off-white. like many of the bags on display, it conceals a lot more than first meets the eye or, at least, our original expectations. from military to monetary, sports to streetwear or simply the latest fashion item, the exhibition is an encyclopedia of the ultimate accessory as its near 300-object display ranges in size, shape and, most importantly, style. most were born from a need whereas others naturally sought after a status symbol. as such, the exhibition explores the function, status and craft of the bag.

 

taking a closer look at the global obsession, designboom previews the V&A bags: inside out exhibition ahead of the public opening on december 12, 2020.

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
function: the evolution of the travel bag
(main image: overview of the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
all images courtesy of the victoria & albert museum unless stated

 

 

from a lavish 16th century burse made for royalty to the everyday tote bag, this exhibition offers an understanding and insight into the function, status, design and making of bags across the world and throughout history. these portable, yet functional accessories have long fascinated men and women with their dual nature that combines private and public. by exploring their continuing importance in our lives and as part of the history of design the exhibition highlights the V&A’s mission to illuminate the past and inspire designers of the future,tells dr lucia savi, curator of bags: inside out at the V&A.

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
the ‘chatelaine’ 1863-85: small, practical tools were suspended on chains hooked to the waist
image © designboom

 

 

the V&A bags: inside out exhibition starts not as the visitor would expect with the origins of the bag; it begins by exploring the many different functions instead. there is a good reason for this, though – how can one possibly pinpoint the birth of what we call a bag or at least the modern interpretation? rather, the exhibition introduces visitors to one of the now seemingly most outlandish items of its 300-object display, which was, in fact, deemed highly practical and stylish back in the early 1800s. this is ‘chatelaine’ garmet that replaced pockets with accessories suspended on broaches at the waist. this ‘holdall’ starts our exploration of the alternate functions of the bag, all born from highly specific needs. these range from burial to backpacks for military and from security and safety to luxurious travel trunks that evolved as the age of travel radicalized. it even looks at the simple origins of the handbag, which were originally small bags for tools that men would carry by hand.

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
military influence: driven by necessity and versatility, military style has long influenced design and fashion
image © designboom

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
travel bags evolved as transportation changed: pictured here includes the prada ‘vela’ backpack, 1995 (top left) and transparent Hermès ‘kelly’ handbag, 1996 (top middle)
image © designboom

 

 

the second section of the exhibition builds upon the evolution of the handbag with the ‘it bag’ phenomenon in the late 1990s and early 2000s. it signifies the status and identity we associate to the modern accessory. in amongst the expensive drawers of bags sit rare, limited edition designs by many of the world’s best known brands. it looks at the central role of the accessory in celebrity culture as well as the political and societal elite. these feature the Hermès ‘kelly’ named in honor of grace kelly, the ‘lady dior’ handbag after princess diana, and the gucci ‘jackie’ as a favorite of jacqueline kennedy onassis. the influence of their endorsements helped fuel the global phenomenon. in response, these fashion items began to be used as symbols for causes and change. they were seen as blank canvases for slogans, personal statements and political messages, exemplified by an anti-slavery reticule bag from 1825, the ‘I am NOT a Plastic bag’ tote by anya hindmarch, and a ‘My Body My Business’ handbag by artist and activist michele pred.

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
it bags: pictured here includes the Hermès ‘kelly’ in honor of grace kelly (top middle left) and the gucci ‘jackie’ iconized by jacqueline kennedy onassis
image © designboom

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
status symbols: pictured here includes the chanel ‘timeless classic’ bag by karl lagerfeld, 2015 (top right) and ‘My Body My Business’ handbag by michele pred (top middle right)

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
street wear style: off-white by virgil abloh bum bag, 2019

 

 

moving from downstairs – conceptualized as the private inside of a bag by exhibition designers studio mutt – and climbing up to the mezzanine – seen as the bag’s public exterior – the final section of the exhibition explores the design and making process in two defined parts: craft and collaboration. from sketch to sample, sewing and selling, the skills of century-old fashion houses are displayed, most notably the craftsmanship of british brand mulberry. a maker’s table spans the width of the floor to allows visitors to explore the processes and materials up close – although not to touch – where they can listen and watch crafters create. it completes the circle of the exhibition as we see items previously on show earlier in the exhibition being sketched, fabricated and modelled. 

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
design and making: the final section of the V&A bags: inside out show

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
design and making: the maker’s table details the process from sketch to sample, sewing and selling
image © designboom

 

 

the dedication of the creator continues in this final section with a focus on artistic collaborations and innovations. these examine experimental forms that resemble statement designs. this includes 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. it finishes with a brief exploration of environmentally sustainable materials, featuring a stella mccartney backpack made from recycled ocean plastic waste.

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
artistic collaboration: daring design statements with renowned creators. pictured here, the prada ‘invites’ bag by kazuyo sejima, 2019 (right)
image © designboom

preview of ultimate accessories in the V&A bags: inside out exhibition
making bags: including the craft of mulberry, the display highlights the skills of century-old fashion houses
image © designboom

 

 

the final topic leaves a lasting unanswered question from the V&A bags: inside out exhibition: ranging in size, shape and style, deeply laced with highly skilled craft and designed for clear functions, how important is the use of sustainable materials for the ultimate accessory in the future? will the status of ‘it bags’ change as we consider materialism compared to their fundamental materials? hold on to your hats bags, only the future will tell.

 

va-museum-bags-inside-out-exhibition-preview-designboom-big02
va-museum-bags-inside-out-exhibition-preview-designboom-big01
va-museum-bags-inside-out-exhibition-preview-designboom-big03

 

 

exhibition info:

 

museum: victoria & albert, london

exhibition: bags: inside out

sponsor: mulberry

curator: dr lucia savi

exhibition designers: studio mutt

opening date: 12 december 2020

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design icons since 1984, sawaya & moroni win THE DESIGN PRIZE 2021 lifetime achievement award Sep 02, 2021
design icons since 1984, sawaya & moroni win THE DESIGN PRIZE 2021 lifetime achievement award
sawaya & moroni has played a pioneering role within the international design scene since the ‘80s, collaborating with the most prestigious names in the field of architecture and design, including enzo mari, zaha hadid, jean nouvel, david adjaye, snøhetta, and many more.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5