As we are due such a mammoth fashion week and doubtless floor to ceiling fascinators on Friday, it seemed the right moment to bring you a couple of books from the Design Museum which have been keeping me nicely entertained over the last few months.
The first is Fifty Bags That Changed the World, safe territory for me unlike Fifty Hats That Changed the World which will present more of a challenge, but for today I am on familiar turf with yet another opportunity to own up that I am the original Bag Lady. The search has been underway for the Bag of My Dreams for the last fifty years I'd say, and each time I think I may have found it, well would you believe it a few months on and another one usurps the throne.
I can't tell you exactly what it is about a new bag but that moment of transference, when, as fickle as they come, I reject the old monarch and swear allegiance to the new young pretender, is unrivalled. All that excitement about transplanting the contents into new pockets and zipped compartments, deciding where everything's going to go and then that day when you take it on its first outing. Always a bit nerve-wracking as I fumble for my purse or the annoyingly insistent ringing mobile and can be heard to mutter...sorry, sorry,new bag, can't remember where I've put everything.
Here's my current friend which is actually an old friend that I have sworn new loyalty towards...for now.
The introduction to the book helps me explain..
'The bag is at once the simplest, the most complicated and the most emotion-laden of accessories...in one of its key manifestations, the handbag, it can be deeply expressive of a woman's life - serving as a companion, a receptacle of secrets, a status object and a means of self-display.'
Which may all go some way to explaining why Bookhound just can't grasp this at all...but you've already got more bags than there are days in the year, and I try and explain and I fail. The range in this little book seems to confirm this need because I can safely say that I have at some time or another owned a version of many of them
The carpetbag, for which we must thank the American Civil War, 'the sure sign of a stranger in town...the bag of the opportunist' so I bought one of these having coveted it for a very long time. It was expensive but I loved it instantly whilst also instantly denying (as is the case with many of the current buckle-laden bags) that it was heavy enough before I had even loaded it. I looked at it and stroked it for a week before the load and I tried, I really did, but in end I had to face the truth, that carrying around an Axminster carpet on my shoulder was never going to help my back, admitted defeat and sold it on eBay for as much as I'd paid, so came out quits.
The bicycle panniers, yes I had a nice green set of those in the days of my pink mountain bike, the bike with more gears than I knew how to manage and which never saw much further than the Camel Cycle Trail, let alone a mountain. But we were doing the cycling thing with small children, and I loved the panniers as much as any handbag for the fact I could still carry everything with me.
Then there's the schoolboy satchel,and perhaps this is where it all began, according to the book
'last widely used in the 1950s...butter-soft leather, buckled flap, long strap worn diagonally across the shoulder'
The rucksack, where on earth would I be without mine, both my nice leather ones, the brown and the smaller black one and my Karrimor walking one... or the Vango walking one...or the Lowe Alpine walking one... a girl needs choice after all and that need explained as follows
'The backpack or rucksack, is one of the most ancients types of bag, used by hunter-gatherers who needed to have their hands free as they wandered through primordial forests in search of prey..'
Which is why I do as the book also suggests and use one of mine whenever I am tackling the urban jungle.
Then there's the sports bag, the basket, the bum bag, the messenger bag, the tote bag, the shoulder bag, the clutch, the examples are endless and a fascinating stroll through the baggage requirements of my life. Not to mention work bags, because I have been through a legion of those, nothing like a new work bag when I was feeling a bit jaded with the NHS. Now I work from home I'm 'making do' with my last work bag, in fact my favourite, something about that shade of Karrimor turquoise that is always pleasing on the eye.
I was commenting on KevinFromCanada's blog recently about the significance I always sense from the sight of luggage on the cover of a book.
Perhaps it's viewed as a well-worn design cliche these days but all those wonderful messages to be conveyed about journeys and travelling, about secrets concealed and precious possessions to be carried, and above all about 'baggage' and all that 'stuff' we all carry around with us all our lives. I will always want to read a book with luggage on the cover, so given the choice of these two covers for the same book it's obvious which one I would want to pick up and which I might leave on the shelf.
Is it just me or does it seem worth the aggravation and upheavel of emigrating to Canada just to be blessed with that cover on the right? I want to read The Free World by David Bezmozgis very much and I will eventually because Kevin tips it for Booker-dom, but I'd have read that Canadian edition the minute it plopped on the mat, and for the same reasons that I can't wait to read House of Exile and eventually persevered and fell in love with Suite Francaise.
Any other bags on book covers I could be missing out on and should know about?
Any more bag people out there?