(Published in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London)
  1. Claire Wilcox
  2. Elizabeth Currie
  • ISBN 9780500519370
  • 22.70 x 15.70 cm
  • PLC (no jacket)
  • 160pp
  • 114 Illustrations, 114 in colour
  • First published 2017
  • See more books in theAccessories Series

An engaging and authoritative overview of the changing styles and uses of bags from the Middle Ages to today, illustrated with rare and luxurious examples


Illuminating the evolution of bag designs and uses from the medieval period to today, the author explores early drawstring creations and richly worked ecclesiastical purses, before looking at large work bags of the 18th century, and by contrast the small reticules that were designed to complement high-waisted Empire line dresses.

Increased travel in the 19th century brought about the leather handbag as we know it today, while the 20th century saw an explosion of innovations, from 1930s designs reflecting the streamlined American aesthetic and the use of new synthetics such as imitation patent and Vynide, to the rise of the luxury designer handbag by the likes of Hermès, Gucci, Chanel and Prada.

After a general introduction, chronological chapters unfold, illustrated throughout; a detailed glossary, bibliography and index conclude the book. An inspiring, impeccably researched and concise history of bags through the ages, Bags: A Brief History is a musthave resource for students, designers and lovers of fashion and costume.

Claire Wilcox, Senior Curator of Fashion, Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor in Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion. She curated the record-breaking ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ exhibition in 2015.