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The history of the handbagits design, how it has been made, used, and wornreveals something essential about women's lives lived over the last 500 years. Perhaps the most universal item of fashionable adornment, it can also be elusive, an object of desire, secrecy and even fear. Handbagsexplores these rich histories and multiple meanings. This book features specially commissioned photographs of an extraordinary, newly formed collection of fashionable handbags that dates from the 16th century to the present day. It has been acquired to exhibit in the first museum devoted to the handbag, in Seoul, South Korea. The project is a commission undertaken by experimental exhibition-maker Judith Clark, whose innovative practices are revealed in Handbags. Essays by leading fashion historians and an acclaimed psychoanalyst investigate the history of gesture, the psychoanalysis of bags, and the museum's state-of-the-art mannequins and archive cabinets. In order to preserve the words that describe the unique qualities of each bag, a terminology of handbags has been compiled.
Judith Clark is professor of fashion and museology at London College of Fashion. Caroline Evans is professor of fashion history and theory at Central St. Martin's College of Art & Design. Amy de la Haye is professor of dress history and curatorship, Rootstein Hopkins Chair, at London College of Fashion. Adam Phillips is a psychoanalyst and writer. Claire Wilcox is senior fashion curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum.