Death by Handbags: Visiting the Amsterdam Museum of Handbags and Purses

You know that feeling when you have to touch something such as clothes on rails or the fur of an animal. Well the Tassen Museum Hendrikje (Museum of Handbags and Purses) in Amsterdam was exactly that. Being surrounded by exquisite one-of-a-kind hand wear may sound quite a bore but believe me, it was magical. Even one who is not that enthusiastic regarding attire would enjoy this because every single handbag was unique and differed from the rest providing both an historical essence and a feeling of attraction towards the item. Vivienne Westwood, Chanel, Orla Kiely, Bottega Veneta and many more well-known designers ranging from the 1400s to the present day all exhibited in opulent glass shelves.

Placed upon an idealistic Dutch street in Amsterdam, the museum began through an avid handbag collector called Hendrikje Ivo who found her fascination amongst the year of 1820 when she discovered a leather handbag with tortoiseshell capping near Norwich, England, of which she then went on to uncover its history thus did the same for her future handbag purchases. Around 75 years on, the museum currently speculates 4000 handbags that all have compelling disparate origins.

Firstly I came across this beige velvet bag created in 1550-1570 with rose detail that we all know, is still used today. The bag is part of the Rothschild Collection and was used by both women and men which they attached to a belt as there was a lack of pockets during the 1500s. Overall, the hand attire would have been viewed as advanced clothing back then due to its strong iron clasp and variety of hidden locks. Focusing on uses, bags in those days were frequently used for carrying coins, the bible and alternative personal requirements.


Next is this range of coin purses from the 1700s which obviously conveys the century’s allure with embroidery, mainly being flowers alike to the previous handbag. Personally, I adore the draw string locks as they provide dimension rather than a flat surface. Not only were these pouches used for carrying personal belongings but they also acted as an ostentatious carrier of expensive perfumes called ‘sweet bags. These sweet bags would then be reused as pretty carriers of money that would be given as New Year’s gifts towards royalty; moreover the bags would be placed upon attire to maintain a distinct aroma of perfume which was viewed as a high-class action. Alternatively, pouches were used as gaming bags for chips. These specifically consisted of a flat bottom to aid the purses in standing upright. Decorated at the surface was usually a family coat of arms therefore the players could easily distinguish their own pouch. Almost every Dutch woman tended to wear their bags upon harnesses, chatelaines or belts similar to the 1400s. 


Amid the 1800s, craftsmanship progressed greatly starting with the use of silk reticule however ending with the popularity of leather fabric attire. This was mainly a root from the French Industrial Revolution meaning that items were made more efficiently thus larger quantities of each product could be made at a quicker rate. As a result the pinpoint of handbags was made: the reticule. The reticule  was a pouch with either a cord or chain (corresponding to the classic Chanel Chain Bag), of which the term ‘reticule’ originated from the Latin word reticulum defining a miniature women’s mesh bag used during the times of the Romans. Another consequence of the French Industrial Revolution was the increase in transport and wealth generating a brand new market of carrying attire decorated with images of individual locations often bought to bring home to friends and family as a souvenir. Bringing the 1800s to a final was the popularity of leather handbags and purses. Quite peculiarly they were attached to a metal ring and worn upon the wrist to carry purses, diaries and train tickets. Above all, I regard the 1800s as being a major pinnacle in handbag and purse development considering that the base of mode, Paris, went through an Industrial Revolution. 


Forwarding on to the 1900s, this century saw leather handbags change from basic leather to leather with added element using features such as shimmering metallic and textured beads. For example, colours other than beige and black were implemented upon leather. One hand garment at the museum was a sophisticated lilac evening bag with enamelled adornment in gold from France in 1915 conveying the sense that women began to have particular bags for the day and evening, of which day bags were most commonly briefcases and satchels, whereas evening bags involved pouches with a larger amount of decoration rather than one set colour and print. Not only did leather become vastly successful but also glass beads mainly from the Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, Italy and Austria. These beads would be organised to display flowers, landscapes and historical scenes in a theme of art deco and orient. Furthermore, I saw a synthetic lucite bag which resembled that of glass. With a mahogany shade and structured design, it was one of my favourites contained in the exhibition for the reason that despite the formal shade, the gloss of the product made it appealing thus I believe the designer (which was not stated) to have been very intelligent and creative. Moreover, hand garments corresponding to this bag of that age all came together to inspire box bags seen today, for instance the plastic Chanel clutch and the cube shaped handbags Alexa Chung constantly wears. 


Finally arriving in the 21st century, the time we all know too well. Here was an array of designer names that dominantly made their mark on the external of the handbag. Think the Louis Vuitton ‘LV’ print and Vivienne Westwood’s signature crown jewels logo centring the product in an opulent pre-eminence of gold. Besides these, the one I found most preferable and surprisingly my mum too, was the Chanel Lego Bag in pastel blue. Why do all my posts turn into an advertisement for Chanel? Anyway, this bag is timeless even though it has only been available for at most ten years, the Chanel Lego Bag is the first item I would purchase if I was in possession of 10,000 pounds, it is what I define as perfect. Of course the clutch was shown exactly at the midpoint of its case just to give you that urgent need to grab it and run. Anyway, this bag is and will forever be my uttermost need of handbags. 


To conclude, the Museum of Handbags and Purses was for me, a once in a lifetime experience. There was no need to travel to various different designer shops just to see their offerings of handbags, everything was grouped into one and I constantly got won over by one handbag and then another and then another. Additionally, it is very surprising that there is so much information and in-depth origin in the field of hand garments as they are such a necessity in everybody’s lives today and provide such an impact to getting around. To be honest, my entire knowledge of fashion was pleading for some extra notes in the bag field and without a doubt these notes are now covered. 

Please pop a comment below of feedback regarding this post and make sure you view the gallery linked to get lost in a multitude of handbags from the early 1400s to the present day all taken at the Amsterdam Museum of Handbags and Purses.

Thank-you for reading,

Poppy ~ Largerfeld Enthusiast x

Make sure that you follow me on Instagram just because I’m fabulous –

My October Favourites

I’ve seen frequent post titled under the bloggers favourites of not just fashion but general things therefore, after being quite stuck on what to post, I have decided to join in. Every season, I will provide a list of stuff in which I have been enjoying at that current time. Don’t expect just fashion because I will also list other products such as books and décor. Even though, these posts will not be centred around style, I still want my blog to be based around that subject so please don’t lose interest in this site by virtue of this alternative subject, just remember that Largerfeld Enthusiast is still a fashion blog and in no way whatsoever do I intend for it to be a lifestyle blog or any other kind.

Sleeper Earrings

To be honest, I believe that the large sleeper earrings appear as quite ‘chavvy’ however I have a major love for the ones measuring in at 4 cm and under. Unlike regular stud earrings, sleepers are vastly definitive, they move whenever you move not only adding activity to a piece but also dimension. Moreover, they are the perfect add-on to an outfit lacking dimension such as a suit or trousers and tee. Sienna Miller wore the hoops well during a charity event she attended in Los-Angeles, not only placing them on the lobes but the helix also. 

DSCN2201_edited The silver ones are from Claire’s and the gold ones are from Urban Outfitters.

Tartan Scarves

Let’s not discuss how I ended up with this (it is not my mums ok) but I think tartan is such a beautiful pattern especially in the classic Scottish reds, blues and whites in addition to your standard Burberry beige. Literally everyone I see is attiring the print in the form of a checked scarf and what’s more, scarves are an absolutely wonderful accessory due to their versatility. You just Google image ‘scarf’ and in an instant appears oceans of different methods of knotting the garments. My favourite is possibly the most common technique; I’ll place a picture of it below. Anyway, scarves are a considerable bonus during this season as it is starting to get cold and we all want to be consistently comfortable whilst still looking chic. 


Vintage Postcards 

One of the few items that is cheap yet can make the biggest of differences are second-hand postcards. But I’m not talking about that trashy but classy man-wearing-Speedos-with-a-colourful-filter Benidorm merchandise, I’m meaning the ones that sell for 25 pence (40 cents) a piece in vintage shops. Lord do I love vintage shops. Anyhow, a few months ago I discovered some exquisite, inkwell-style postcards in a secluded vintage store in Kirkby Lonsdale down near Cumbria, England. One was originally from Venezia and featured a man and women attiring very opulent clothes. Whereas the other was taken at Wells Cathedral in the UK showing a sample of the building’s striking architecture, think opulent columns and arched walkways. Unsurprisingly, these postcards are visually compatible besides the three (again monochrome) postcards’ I bought at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which I now know as my dream place of inhabitance. 


Subsequent to receiving a new phone, I immediately needed a case so being the stereotypical Tumblr girl; I began my find for the perfect Tumblr quote case. By ‘Tumblr Quotes’, I mean ‘Can You Not’ or ‘Too Sassy for You’ I would have been perfectly fine with a mediocre Mean Girl’s ‘you can’t sit with us’. Surprisingly I couldn’t find a single one so instead I ordered a clear case then uncovered some Tumblr stickers reading ‘Nope’ ‘Can You Not’ ‘Go Away’ and ‘100% Done’ upon a quirky site called Basically the shop other a wide range of designs but they are all ones that people like because it’s independent sellers who create them rather than one big brand. Not only do they sell an assortment of quirky stickers but also Wall art, Stationary and many others. And I won’t forget to mention alternative designs, the ones that I most take an interest in being Karl Largerfeld, The Great Gatsby and Cats holding up Canon Camera’s. 

(Can I just mention that this is all my personal opinion and RedBubble has not asked for their feature in this post.)

1984 by George Orwell

I confess to being the ultimate bookworm, I’ve read The Fault in Our Stars and the remainder of John Green’s books though not many alternative teen-crave novels (The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Maze Runner etc.) More so, I am most probably the only living 13-16 year old who has not yet seen any of The Hunger Game movies, neither do I have a desire to since not being a stranger to falling asleep midst the showing of any Harry Potter film. Despite this I am currently making my way through the top 20 penguin classics to complete my bucket list goal of, you guessed it: ‘Read all the top 20 Penguin Classics. Now, without a doubt, some that I’ve read so far have been a bit too old English therefore my head hasn’t completely figured out the storyline (essentially every single Jane Austin book, I’m sorry but I’m not sorry ok). Yet, the last one I finished, 1984, was exceptionally good. I won’t spoil anything but it’s basically about living in a world dictated by a Utopian government and besides being a novel that’s impossible to put down, it is quite educational and if your studying law in any form, I would read it asap.


Maxi Cardigans 

Forget those long black cocoon coats that are practically seen in every single street style image of 2014 and on the other hand, take note of cardigans, maxi ones in particular. To start with they are extremely versatile, but be cautious regarding colours, as I preach constantly, black is best. Worn with a patterned pencil skirt, tights and a plain tee, a cardigan can make a summer outfit become the perfect forest-wanderer for autumn. On the contrary, go all one colour. For example, grab a grey knit cardi; some grey skinny jeans and a grey top however add on some striking white and black Adidas originals for the look of a minimalist city-commuter. I adore undertaking the look of a base colour with one prevailing contrast of shade, in addition to being the culminating a la mode of looks; it is markedly affordable and convenient.


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Also, if you have any ideas for my next post please do not hesitate to either contact me via my page or leave a comment below in behalf of the fact that I am quite lost on ideas at present.

Thank you for reading,

Make sure that you follow me on Instagram just because I’m fabulous –

Poppy Grundy x