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Vintage and Retro Handbags

Designer label handbags became very popular in the 1940s. My love affair with handbags started when I stayed with my granny in Ireland. She had a wonderful curved door sideboard in the lounge room. Stored away in this beautiful piece of furniture were a number of exquisite handbags. They came in amazing sizes and colours my favorite was a square red bag with a large clasp. I spent many a happy hour playing with this exciting collection.

Sample Board created by Rosena on

1920s small metal mesh bags and flat envelope evening purses

The bags of the 1920s were small many made of metal mesh. The first bag to have a zipper was the Bolide Bag. One of the most popular bags of the era was created by Whiting and Davis. Also during the 1920s and 1930s custom made luggage became the rage. The bags of this period were usually very well made. Other handbag styles during the 1920s were flat envelope beaded evening purses, Celluloid bags and metal vanity cases.

Larger envelope bags of crocodile and other skins in 1930s

During the 1930s bags made of crocodile, snake and other sorts of skins became popular. They were made up in a style similar to the 1920s envelope purse only larger. The evening bags of the era were smaller and decorated with beads and faux jewelry. Toward the end of the decade bags were often custom make to match shoes.

Sample Board created by Rosena on

1940s cloth, plastic and rayon bags satchel style popular

The war years of the early 1940s saw bags made of rayon, plastic and cloth instead of silk and leather. At this time one of the most popular styles was the satchel bag. Women still tended to match shoes and bags. Towards the end of the 1940s the wrist-strap bag and the box style bag made of leather became popular as did the New Look fashions. Evening bags were embroidered or made of brocade, feathers and beading.

The 1950s Kelly and 2.55 bags

The 1950s saw a new age of glamour and elegance emerge. Bags were made of wood, straw and plastic covered with beads, jewels, sequins, hand paintings or embroidery. Mesh styles bags from the 1920s were revived. Princess Grace started a trend when she was seen with a bag designed by Hermes. The bag became known as the Kelly bag. In February 1955 Chanel created her famous quilted bag which she named 2.55.

Sample Board created by Rosena on

1960s space age and hard plastic bags

In the 1960s the silver space age style bags were designed by Pierre Cardin and Andre Courreges became popular. Also in vogue were the bags designed by Emilo Pucci with psychedelic swirling prints. Mary Quant made her mark with hard plastic handbags with a daisy logo. PVC Op Art bags in black and white were also the rage. Edith Collins’ fun bags were created in wooden box or buckle styles and decorated with paint, sequins and rhinestones.

1970s clutch and 1980s flashy designer bags

During the 1970s the clutch bags in unusual fabric for example mimicking a glossy magazine were in vogue. In 1980s the most popular brands were flashy designs created by Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. So if you are looking for a vintage or retro handbag check the bags designed by the designers mentioned in this blog. It a great place to start your search.


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