Inside story: handbags that made history
While much attention is paid to the exterior of a bag — its design, status and, inevitably, its price tag, less scrutiny is paid to this rich and complex internal life and the tension between the two.
When a woman stepped out in the 1740s, her private belongings would have included a watch, a snuff box, money, jewellery and perhaps some food. These are what she chose to take from her domestic sphere into the world thanks to detachable pockets that were tied around the waist, accessible through openings in the seams of petticoats.
18 世纪 40 年代，当一位女性走出家门，她的个人随身物品可能有钟表、鼻烟盒、钱、首饰，也许还会有点吃的。这些就是她选择从家里带出门的东西，当时的女性会佩戴系在腰间的“活口袋”，她们可以从衬裙缝合线的开口处伸进去，多亏了这些口袋的发明，她们才能随身携带那些物品。
By 1863, she may have included scissors, a purse, a thimble, a miniature notebook and a magnifying glass. These she would have worn in the form of a chatelaine: a series of small purses that were suspended from the waist and highly visible.
到了 1863 年，她可能会带上剪刀、钱袋、顶针、小记事本和放大镜。她会把这些物品装在一套叫作“短链子”的东西上——它由一连串的小袋子组成，会被别在腰间，十分显眼。
What many women carry in their bags some three centuries later is remarkably unchanged. One friend lists the contents of her bag at this moment as: “A book, cosmetics, phone, keys, reading glasses, spare contact lenses and eye drops, etc.”
“The content is so crucial,” says Dr Lucia Savi, exhibition curator of Bags: Inside Out. “As bank notes came in, handbags had to be compatible, at least bigger than a £5 note.” Now we carry cards, it is the phone that dictates design. “No one will create a bag that doesn’t fit the largest phone on the market.”
“包里的东西起着至关重要的作用，”Bags: Inside Out 展览的策展人露西娅·萨维博士这样说道，“随着纸币的问世，包包也必须顺应时代需求，它至少要比一张 5 英镑的钞票大。”时至今日，我们都带银行卡了，所以手机开始左右包包的设计。“没有人会设计一个装不下市面上最大的手机的包包。”
More surprising, she says, is how the most ordinary of bags can communicate something about us. “It’s a blank canvas that can tell us all sorts of things: your status, your beliefs.”