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Vintage Designer Handbags

The perfect handbag.  An expression of very personal taste no other accessory has the ability to make such a style statement on its own.  The perfect handbag is something we buy for ourselves. It may follow your style but it is always bought for your sole enjoyment (and possibly to inspire a little envy in others!)  While we might wear clothes which might, on occasion, increase our allure, a bag is never going to be part of the attraction. We doubt an admirer would ever say: ‘she had a lovely smile, great hair and the most beautiful bag’!  But this does not diminish the importance we place on the handbags in our lives or the way we want to wear them day to day, (with or without admirers.)  Handbags in the 20th century also importantly represent a woman’s independent life outside the home. 

Over the 20th century women in the public eye have had their names inextricably linked to iconic bags.  As an expression of their style and characters, they have been part of famous photographs of these women which are still admired today for their timeless style.  Hermès is a brand which has most famously associated its creations with their wearers.  Famously, the 1930s ‘Sac à dépêches’, a popular forerunner of the vintage box bags of later decades, was worn by Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s ‘To Catch and Thief’ in 1954 and later used by the Princess to hide her baby bump, eventually rechristened the ‘Kelly’ bag in 1977.  And what bag could be better known than the bag which still stands at the very top of the luxury handbag market: The Birkin.  So named after actress Jane Birkin who, in 1983, on a flight from Paris to London bemoaned the lack of good leather weekend bags to the then Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas.  Dumas went on to adapt a 1982 bag in black leather and the Birkin was born.

However, not every vintage bag has to be a vintage designer bag.  Unknown masters of the art from the past 100 years have created handbags synonymous of their era and which not only chart the progression of vintage handbags through the century but also still maintain timeless style, elegance or charm and can be all the better for the mild patina their age has afforded them.  You can find simple form and function of the 1940s when, in post war Britain, Vogue encouraged readers to spend wisely and ‘chose large important bags and good shoes and gloves.’ Through early flap bags called ‘swing bags’ of the  1950s, patent leather and plastic creations of the 1960s, suede, applique and saddle bags of 1970s and beyond.  Vintage handbags continue to inspire current designers and, when a design is perfect, those styles never go out.  Find your perfect vintage designer bag from the Open for Vintage collection.

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Chanel wallet patent leather black vintage wallet

A Chanel wallet patent leather black vintage wallet

Chanel leather orange vintage ladies wallet

A Chanel wallet leather orange vintage wallet

Waldy 1960s Suede Biscuit Brown Vintage Handbag

Waldy bag in biscuit coloured suede with satin lining

Louis Vuitton Alma Vernis Monogram Embossed Patent Dark Purple Vintage Handbag

Vintage Louis Vuitton Alma Vernis monogram embossed handbag in a patent dark purple shade.

Vintage 1960s lizard print grey shoulder bag

Sophisticated 1960s shoulder bag in grey-green coloured lizard print leather

Vintage 1960s hornback crocodile effect leather ombré brown handbag

Sophisticated hornback colour gradient crocodile effect leather handbag from the 1960s

Vintage 1920s Leather Top Handle brown Bag

1920's Brown Leather Top Handle Bag

Vintage 1930s Crocodile hide luggage Case

1930s small crocodile hide case

Vintage 1960s Patent Leather Clutch Bag

1960s black envelope style bag with square stitching detail

Vintage 1960s Lizard Skin Brown Handbag

Elegant biscuit colour lizard skin handbag by Marquessa, London

Rayne 1960s black patent vintage handbag

Black 1960s large square, black patent shoulder bag with adjustable strap

Fortnum & Mason Lizard Skin green vintage Handbag

Chic lizard skin handbag made by Fortnum and Mason

Vintage 1950s Tapestry Print Handbag

Large tapestry bag with silk lining

Vintage 1950s Snakeskin brown clutch bag

Charming 1950s snake skin wallet or clutch bag

Vintage 1980s leather & suede red Clutch Bag

Large red suede clutch bag with leather trim and optional shoulder strap

Vintage 1950s pearl & Beaded white Handbag

White pearl beaded handbag with silver swirl detail 1950s

Louis Vuitton monogram brown vintage travel bag

Louis Vuitton classic monogram vintage travelcase or suitcase luggage

Vintage 1950s Crocodile skin Clutch Bag

Chic 1950s black crocodile clutch bag

John Pound 1950s Snakeskin cream & gold vintage Clutch bag

Chic snakeskin clutch bag edged in gold

Vintage 1950s Snakeskin brown top handle Bag

Super Snakeskin Bag 1950s

Corde 1940s black vintage Handbag

Chic Corde Black Handbag

Vintage 1920s Art Deco Round Beaded Purse bag

Round Beaded Purse from the 1920s

Vintage 1920s Beaded Bag

Beautiful delicately beaded bag

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