From old bag to clutch
One can hardly imagine a working woman or a housewife, a student or a young old pensioner without a bag. Omnia mea mecum porto (lat) “I carry all my things with me” – this cry of medieval mercenaries often repeats the modern woman, referring to the contents of her handbag. After all, there are passport and money, driving license, cosmetic, keys, a copy of the employment contract, unopened tights, a bar of chocolate, hygienic things, a mobile phone, and what not! The sea of current bags is boundless. These are elegant handbags, business cases, roomy sports and shopping bags, as well as various modifications – from old bag to clutch. British Queen Elizabeth II, buying her favorite items, inadvertently gathered a huge collection, with preference for models of handbag, close to the business. This is probably not conscious, but subconsciously perceived magical symbol: Let the Queen’s bag be roomy and filled with food, as a sign of prosperity to her people.
The most common and old should probably be considered a bag of fur or skin of mammals and fish, followed by bags and boxes of bast rope, and later appeared textile bags. Bags were decorated with slots, embroidery, beads, trimmed with fur, metal applique. Indians of North America covered the surface of a leather bag with a mosaic of colored porcupine quills, Nenets (northern tribes) bag combines in one pattern pieces of reindeer fur, fish skin and cloth.
There were several ways of wearing: strap bag, hanging on the shoulder or on the neck; two backpacks strapped behind; two bags slung over horse body. With the advent of the money appeared bag with ropes or flat pouch with a valve on the fortified zone. But all these things were intended mainly for men. For centuries women did not use special handbag. In Russia, for example, it was a long roll-pocket, placed at the wrist of a sleeve. Comb, needle, scissors, a bunch of keys, a mirror most often hung from the belt, the most expensive – on the chest hidden under her dress, or in a stocking.
The direct predecessor of fashion handbags – omoner was born in Burgundian court in the XIV century. Omoner – is a complex piece of work with a lock in the form of a Gothic church. It was worn by both gentlemen and ladies. In the middle of the XVIII century appears first in the true sense of the word handbag – pompadour. Velvet or lace drawstring with a rope or a cord bag named after the famous mistress of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour, as it is credited with the invention of the bag. Primarily intended for new crafts – embroidery hoop in hand, loin weaving or sewing English: needlework was fashionable at the time of the secular parties. In addition, the Pompadour included a handkerchief, a bottle with smelling salts and a jar of rouge, a lipstick, according to the etiquette of the time. Handbag of similar shape, later was called reticule (fr. Reticule – “funny”), for a long time it became a classic and has lived up
to the beginning of the XX century. Often rather poor lady herself reticule sewed from scraps of fabric to elegant dress.
Reticule became widespread in the 90’s of XVIII – 20’s of XIX century, when in fashion was pretty tight dresses, and yet all the romanticism made ladies to carry on walks volume of poems, and at a party – still touching handicrafts. In addition, bags were worn on the belt and also were called reticule embroidered silk or beaded handbags made of fabric and heavily lined, with a metal frame and a clasp in two balls as purses.
In the second half of the XIX century “granny reticule” of thick carpet fabric acquired dimensions comparable to modern shopping bags, and indeed sometimes served to carry big things. At the turn of XIX-XX centuries came in vogue handbags made of metal – steel or silver grid. In general, the majority of secular women, especially young ones, enjoyed the evening bag – when visiting the theater they put there glasses, a bottle of perfume and a box with sweets.
During the day, on a walk, as a rule, there was no need in the bag: small ladies purse, flat portable powder box and handkerchief were quite well hidden in the skirt pocket; keys were typically not taken, as the porter opened the door.
In parallel with soft bags, sacks, there were hard-bag boxes. They usually were plane, dubbed with the thick skin, complemented by metal plates on the valve and corners. Since ancient times there was a type of semi-rigid bags, connecting parts made of soft leather with hard one.
Only after the First World War, when most women did not only do needlework, but really worked, the need for convenient, practical bags increased. Along with the small theater appeared daily bag of rigid forms, often made of leather, rather roomy, and dynamic, matching women of the XX century.
In the 60-ies there was a real boom for bags: laconic silhouettes of the then dresses demanded particularly expressive additions and the bag in addition to the utilitarian began to play an important decorative role, that finally turned into an object of design research and experimentation. But that does not mean the final victory of femininity in the aesthetic and functional properties of the form of bags. It is no coincidence that since the 80’s of the last century compact handbag, purse, has gradually become masculine accessory. Such purely masculine types of equipment as folders and portfolios, then have been adopted by a confident business woman.
From the XVI century into use came portfolios, more similar to the current folder: because of the absence of handle, they were kept under the arm. They were made out of red, green, black morocco, often decorated with gold embroidery or embossed in a frame, the coat of arms on the front cover, the monogram of the owner. In the XIX century it was luxury portfolio of sharkskin, chrome and even crocodile leather with nickel or copper rim locks and metal corners, and usual today handle appeared in the 20s of the XX century.