I think that we can all agree that we have had that moment while waltzing through Bloomingdales whenever we spotted a handbag that changed our lives, picking up the precious materials and saying aloud, “this belongs in a museum!”. As we are muttering those words, we know that we are so obsessed about this new accessory, that we would actually visit it in a museum. People who don’t have a shared love for handbags may think its silly and not understand, but in reality, handbags truly are an exquisite work of art.
The same way that painters and sculptors put their love and passion for their craft into each work of art that they produce, with the intention of them ending up in a museum, gallery, or in someone’s home, designers put the same zeal, gentle care, and skill into the handbags that they create season after season. The only difference being that the handbags designed by the high end designers that we love most, end up hanging in our closets, part of a personal collection that we curate on our own.
In reality, there are a few renowned handbag museums around the world that celebrate a common love for this accessory:
• Tassenmuseum Hendrikje (Museum of Bags and Purses) in Amsterdam• Simone Handbag Museum in South Korea• Esse Purse Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas• The Sakrider Museum of Handbags in Chicago, Illinois
Why should handbags be considered a work of art or in a museum? This is simple really, because the same skill and planning goes into making these beautiful creations as does a painting. The process is similar, as designers go through the steps of drawing inspiration for their collection, perhaps through a well known muse, sketch out the collection, source fabrics and precious materials, and then put it into production.
The finished product is something beautifully magnificent and that is finely crafted. Many designer handbags are part of limited edition collections, made of materials so rare and exclusive that only small amounts are put into production. In the world of handbags, the limited editions are the crème de la crème of the accessories, and are complimentary to the Picasso’s and Matisse’s of the art world. Owning one of these pieces instantly puts you into the category of “collector,” and a connoisseur of the art world.
10 Alexander McQueen, Empire Handbag: Price Unknown
Creating some of the most innovative pieces of our time, Alexander McQueen has been a master of this craft since the label first took off. This Empire Handbag is beyond unique, resembling the iconic Fabrige Egg. If you wear this bag wrapped around your wrist, it literally hangs down, looking like an egg hanging from the wrist, but taking a closer look you can see that it is adorned in Swarovski crystals and tiny details. Truly a work of fine craftsmanship!
9 Fendi, Baguette: $28,000
Fendi has been well known for creating various styles of their notorious “baguettes” season after season in different textures, fabrics, leathers, and embellishments. We see them on the big screen, little screen, and luxury magazines almost on a daily basis. This piece belongs in a museum not only because of its price and exquisite quality, but because of the history that surrounds this bag. It is also known by the name “B bag,” coming in materials as exclusive as lambskin and crocodile.
8 Hilde Palladino, Gadino Bag: $38,000
This beautifully crafted, white crocodile leather Gadino handbag designed by Norwegian designer, Hilde Palladino, is simply exquisite in every way imaginable. The crocodile leather is delicately crafted into a handbag that is so perfect, that you can almost picture yourself wearing it all the time with every outfit—until you see the price tag! The finishing touches are what makes this bag 'museum worthy' with thirty nine white diamond chips that have been embedded into the white gold clasp, making this bag all about the details.
7 Marc Jacobs, Carolyne Crocodile Handbag: $50,000
The Marc Jacobs brand is known for precious handbags that are simply stunning to look at, and for the lucky ones, pair with their favorite outfit. The Caroline Crocodile Handbag is among the most popular handbag that the designer has ever launched and the hefty price tag has yet to sway people from seeking it out. The bag is constructed of patch worked and quilted purple crocodile skin, creating a plush look. This bag should certainly go from runway to museum.
6 Judith Leiber, Precious Rose Bag: $90,000
We are all familiar with the scene in Sex and the City when Mr. Big gifts Carrie a Judith Leiber bag, thinking that her style is the same as the Upper East Side women he is used to dating. It is no doubt that anyone who is anyone has at least one of these designs hanging in their closet, but the Precious Rose Bag is extra special. This little piece of luxury is comprised of forty-two carats of jewels, a mixture of diamonds, crystals, and gems. With her target clientele being the First Ladies from all over the world, you can guarantee there would be a political consensus on this choice.
5 Lana Marks, Cleopatra Clutch: $100,000
Designer Lana Marks is known for the most exclusive “it" bags on the red carpet during award season, year after year. This specific bag is a true gem in many ways and should be admired from behind glass in a museum, because the oils on our hands would be sure to tarnish the 1,500 fully faceted and cut black and white diamonds that encrust the entire bag. The fabulousness doesn’t stop there though; the diamonds are set in eighteen karat white gold. Worn by some of Hollywood’s royalty, this bag is fit for a queen.
4 Louis Vuitton, Urban Satchel: $150,000
This Louis Vuitton bag makes us chuckle a little bit, thinking about people who would pay this excessive price tag to literally carry around garbage. However, with the name Vuitton, I guess it's considered handbag royalty, right? This bag is literally constructed of junk such as water bottles, band aids, and cigarette boxes. In fact, there is only a very small portion of the bag adorned with the designers logo, but nonetheless, it is an innovative, truly avant garde handbag that has won the hearts of many.
3 Chanel, Diamond Forever Handbag: $261,000
Anything bearing the Chanel logo should belong in a museum. With that said, this Diamond Forever handbag that has made this brand even more famous, is definitely one of a kind. Constructed out of white crocodile skin and adorned with 334 diamonds coming together to make up the Chanel logo. Totaling 3.56 carats set in 10 carat white gold, we think that at least one of the thirteen that went into production should be behind glass for all to admire.
2 Hermès, Birkin Ginza Tanaka Bag: $1.9 Million
Hermes became a household name whenever they created their infamous Birkin Bag, but the Birkin Ginza Tanaka Bag is the one that belongs in a museum. Self named after Japanese designer Ginza Tanaka, it features 2,000 diamonds and is made of platinum. The purse isn’t all you will receive for the $1.9 million dollar price tag, as it also comes with a complimentary necklace and bracelet. We think that all three accessories will look lovely assembled together, safely in a museum.
1 Mouwad, 1001 Nights Diamond Purse: $3.8 Million
Being certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the most expensive purse in the world, this 1001 Nights diamond Purse deserves its own wing in the museum. In order to create this one of a kind masterpiece, ten artisans spent a total of 8,800 hours just building the creation, design and material sourcing time NOT included. The bag is made of 18 carat gold, and features 4,517 diamonds in total (4,356 colorless, 105 yellow and 65 pink).