Since Egyptian times, bags and purses have been a part of our lives, and to the ladies, they were an essential item in the wardrobe. From the 14th century, the Egyptian hieroglyphs have shown pouches that were carried around the waist, and bags were also attached to girdles. Such bags were meant to add to the glamour and status of the person.
In the 16th century, as more everyday materials such as leather and cloth were used, bags became more practical. In the 17th century, there were more variety and women, even men, carried small purses with more elaborated designs and shapes. Girls were taught embroidery, and hence, this period also saw many beautiful and unique stitched artwork in bags.
The 18th century is when neo-classical clothes became popular. Women started to carry their rouge, face powder, fan, scent bottle, cards and smelling salts in reticules, a type of handbags because wearing a purse would ruin the look of neo-classical clothes. Every fashion magazine ran coverage on the proper uses of such bags, and women started to carry a different bag for every occasion.
In the 19th century, the term “handbags” came in use, and referred to handheld luggage bags carried by men, which led to new bag designs for women, bags with complicated fasteners, internal compartments, locks and jewellery. revolution in fashion came in the 1920s, with varying hemlines and lighter clothing. Bags no longer need to match the outfit, and the rage was for the lady to carry a doll dressed exactly like herself, complete with a matching bag for her doll!
In the 1940s, metal frames, zips, leather, and mirrors were in short supply due to the war, and manufacturers started to use plastic and wood for bag making. In the next 10-20 years, major designer houses such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermes started to emerge, breaking down the old ideas and designs of bags.