Museum of Bags and Purses displays Royal Bags exhibition

Royal fashion

Traditionally, the queen or empress would make decisions about fashion at court. Aristocratic ladies would follow her fashion image. This fashion image would then spread through all layers of the population. All sorts of rules – sometimes even laws – existed around what article of clothing should be worn at what particular time. There was a different outfit for every occasion, with a matching bag. The bags were popular among the population. Until this day, queens and princesses wear bags that are copied often.

Royals and their bags

A bag that had a lot of influence on fashion, was Grace Kelly’s famous Kelly-bag. This brown, leather handbag from the French fashion house Hermès had been in production since the ‘30s. The pregnant princess Grace was photographed with it when she held the bag in front of her belly. The bag is still a status symbol. The Royal Bags exhibition also contains a few special bags belonging to the Dutch royal family, such as a golden handbag from former Queen Juliana. She carried this purse on the opening-day of Dutch Parliament in 1969. Queen Máxima also carried this purse on several occasions, like at King Carl Gustaf’s birthday and when she visited New Zealand. Queen Elizabeth selected a few bags from her private collection for the exhibition.

Travelling royals

In the past, court dignitaries would accompany a king on his journeys. Clothes would be transported in bags and chests. First in carts and carriages, later by train and steamboat. Sovereigns would travel in style. The royal crest or monogram would be prominently displayed on their trunks and chests. In 1864 Empress Eugénie of France assigned trunk-maker Louis Vuitton to design her trunks. This meant the start of a successful company. Empress Sisi of Austria used to escape the strict Viennese court by travelling to countries such as Hungary or Corfu. She possessed a great many trunks and travel necessities. In the exhibition you can view Empress Sisi’s travelling utensils, a travelling alarm clock and necessities for doing the laundry whilst travelling.

Museum of Bags and Purses

Museum of Bags and Purses celebrates its twentieth jubilee this year. The museum arose out of Hendrikje and Heinz Ivo’s private collection. They moved the Museum of Bags and Purses from their home in Amstelveen to a beautiful building situated at the Herengracht in Amsterdam. The building is on the seventeenth-century canal ring that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. From here it grew out to one of the top ten best fashion museums in the world. The Museum of Bags and Purses’ collection contains over 5,000 bags, from historical pieces from the fifteenth century to timeless classics of modern design from famous fashion houses such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès.