Handbags worn by Baroness Thatcher and Sex And The City’s Carrie Bradshaw will go on show at the Victoria And Albert Museum (V&A) in an exhibition on the “ultimate accessory” .
Bags: Inside Out will span objects from the bling, coveted by Kim Kardashian, to the surreal – such as the collection inspired by a designer’s dog.
Sir Winston Churchill’s despatch box and a Second World War gas mask bag, belonging to the Queen’s grandmother Queen Mary, will be among the more functional items on display.
The V&A has secured, as “one of the leading examples of the bag as a symbol of power”, a grey Asprey item worn by Baroness Thatcher.
She was pictured in 1987, following a meeting with the Queen, holding the accessory.
The term “handbagging” was used by some ministers to describe their abrasive encounters with Britain’s first female prime minister and the handbag was often dubbed her “secret weapon”.
She was quoted as saying: “Of course I am obstinate in defending our liberties and our law. That is why I carry a big handbag.”
Her wardrobe “acted as her suit of armour and her handbag was essential to the image of the ‘Iron Lady’”, the V&A said.
Another star item to go on show will be the Fendi Baguette bag worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex And The City.
In a famous 1997 episode of the TV show, her alter-ego Carrie Bradshaw told a thief who had demanded, “Give me your bag” that “It’s a Baguette”.
Around 600,000 of the objects were sold between 1997 and 2007 and the accessory was dubbed the first global “It bag”.
The exhibition will explore the world of celebrity endorsement, with a Louis Vuitton bag made from gold reflective vinyl, popularised by Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, on show.
A “Lady Dior” handbag named after Diana, Princess of Wales will go on display along with a Hermes “Kelly”, made in honour of Grace Kelly, while other highlights include Vivien Leigh’s attache case.
Bags in the shape of a dog and a milk carton will be among the more surreal objects on display in the “most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the ultimate accessory”.
The “I Am NOT A Plastic Bag” tote by Anya Hindmarch and a bag crafted from decommissioned fire hoses will explore the object as a symbol for political statements and the focus on the environment.
Curator Lucia Savi said: “From a lavish 16th-century burse made for royalty to the everyday tote bag, this exhibition offers an understanding and insight into the function, status, design and making of bags across the world and throughout history.
“These portable yet functional accessories have long fascinated men and women with their dual nature that combines private and public.
“By exploring their continuing importance in our lives and as part of the history of design the exhibition highlights the V&A’s mission to illuminate the past and inspire designers of the future.”
The exhibition Bags: Inside Out, Sponsored by Mulberry, runs from April 25 2020– January 31 2021. Tickets from £12 (Available early 2020).