By Simone Handbag Museum

The Making of the Museum of Handbags

Take a look at the creation process of Simone Handbag Museum that displays invaluable handbag collections from the 16th century to the present days

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BAGSTAGESimone Handbag Museum

Simone Handbag Museum

Simone Handbag Museum is the world’s first museum dedicated to handbags set up to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Simone in 2012. The museum has created a space of recording women’s past lives and also lives they seek after in continuous and persistent ways instead of embodying the “past” and pursuing the fashion of “it-bags,” focusing on how handbags have contributed to the identity of women.

DISPLAY MOUNTSSimone Handbag Museum

Collections

The Museum was created by Simone in collaboration with Judith Clark, a fashion curator based in London. Simone collected approximately 350 handbags of immense value in the fashion history from renowned official auctions and international collectors around the globe. These efforts have resulted in the museum’s remarkable collections of handbags that hold memories from every corner of Western history from rare pouches in the 1500s to the latest handbags of the 21st century.

DISPLAY MOUNTS, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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DISPLAY MOUNTS, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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DISPLAY MOUNTS, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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WORK SKETCHSimone Handbag Museum

Exhibition spaces

The interesting peculiarity of this project is found in the design of spaces to display collections even before they were determined. The Modern Gallery created with white metals presents it-bags from the 1900s to the present time. It looks like a laboratory and also reminds viewers of the backside of the stage where props are in piles. The Historical Gallery was made with wooden cabinets in harmony with the atmosphere of the times. It feels like a private collection space owned by a noble family during the Victorian era.

MANNEQUINSimone Handbag Museum

Making of mannequins

Judith Clark commissioned 18 special mannequins that created a vintage silhouette of a lady holding a handbag. They are different from conventional mannequins used to display clothes, highlighting handbags through realistic gestures and various poses. The clothes and hairstyles of the mannequins were put in charge of many experts in their respective fields, including Rosie Talyor-Davis and Angelo Seminara, who reproduced the clothes and hairstyles that were in vogue during the years when concerned handbags were carried, trying to promote the understanding of fashion flows throughout the times.

MANNEQUIN, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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MANNEQUIN, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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MANNEQUIN, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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MANNEQUIN, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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CHATELAINE PURSE, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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MANNEQUIN, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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MANNEQUINSimone Handbag Museum

Casting

Since the main characters of this project were handbags, hands, arms, and shoulders were highlighted as prominent parts of mannequin models. Handbags feel differently according to the ways they are carried. You may feel tight when holding a handbag in your hand. Other times, handbags may feel hanging under your shoulder. A lady in a gorgeous dress and holding a clutch radiates in grace. An active woman enjoys carrying a backpack in comfortable clothes. Women choose different gestures according to different forms of their handbags, and they reflect women’s social status changes and flows in addition to their appearances.

CASTING, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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CASTING, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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CASTING, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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HISTORLCAL GALLERYSimone Handbag Museum

The historical gallery

The historical gallery presents rare handbags in a chronological order from the 1500s to the 1900s. It was designed to convey the “intimate” mood of the past when handbags were considered as valuables. The mood created by pin lighting cast on the wooden cabinets and collections reminds viewers of the “Cabinet of Curiosities” as the forerunner of a museum.

Step inside the museum in further detail through virtual reality here.

HISTORLCAL GALLERY, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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HISTORLCAL GALLERY, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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HISTORLCAL GALLERY, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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PURSE (c1880) by BOUCHERONSimone Handbag Museum

Highlights of the historical gallery

These collections hold rare bags from the 1500s to the 1900s in a chronological order. Most of these handbags are compact and made of valuable materials, showing off delicate craftsmanship. They were made at home, for leisure activities, or at workshops and studios for achievement purposes. Before the latter part of the 19th century, people had few belongings that had to carry all day long like today, and handbags were valuables themselves made of expensive materials.

NEEDLE CASE, Unknown, c1900, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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CHATRLAINE, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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BAG, Unknown, 1800/1809, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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MODERN GALLERYSimone Handbag Museum

The modern gallery

At the modern gallery, you can trace back the history of handbags from the present time to the 1900s. A specially manufactured mannequin represents the characteristics of each period, showing close connections between the bodies of women those days and their handbags. The “warehouse-like” aesthetics of the gallery was intentionally created to highlight the experimental atmosphere at the “backside of the stage.” It can be understood both in the contexts of creation and preservation.

Explore the museum in further detail through virtual reality here.

MANNEQUIN, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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CLASP, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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MANNEQUIN, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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CLUTCH (1930/1939) by UnknownSimone Handbag Museum

Highlights of the historical gallery

These collections are comprised of it-bags from the 1900s to the present time, during which women’s lives were enormously influenced by social and cultural changes. Their lives underwent especially rapid changes at public places. These changes are well reflected on highly durable materials and designs emphasizing functionality of handbags chosen by women to go out to public places those days.

EVENING BAG, CARTIER, 1928, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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CLUTCH, ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, 2010, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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HANDBAG, Unknown, 1945/1949, From the collection of: Simone Handbag Museum
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