Handbag Week! Day 3

For those of you in the U.S.: Happy Independence Day! For everyone else: Happy random Wednesday!

Our week of handbags continues, in chronological order. Today is all 1940s, all the time. Clicking on any image will bring up a somewhat larger view for detail study.

Beaded handbag with plastic frame, United States, 1940s

Shoulder bag woven from banana leaves and embroidered with raffia, 1940s

Textured cordé handbag, United States, 1940s

Plaited handbag with matching shoe, Hawaii, c. 1945

Let’s talk about cordé for a minute. Advertised during the 1940s as the longest wearing of all handbag fabrics, this was an important selling point during WWII. While rationing in the U.S. wasn’t as restrictive as it was in Europe, manufacturers both here and abroad had to comply with strict limitations regarding the use of leather and metal. Cordé handbags were created by stitching geometric patterns of gimp braid to a fabric background. Clear or tortoise Lucite pulls or handles were often added to add a touch of glamour. The result was a beautiful handbag that would last for the duration, and beyond.

EDIT 7/5/2012: I found this beaded bag on Etsy today, it’s nearly identical to the beaded bag featured here.

CREDITS: Photography by Jenna Bascom and Ken Music Photography. All handbags shown here are from the collection of Tassenmuseum Hendrikje/Museum of Bags and Purses, Amsterdam.

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Filed under collections, fashion, vintage

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