At one stage I thought how lucky that London is even able to have exhibitions opening in 2020. As the year draws to an end, museums have closed again. Bags Inside Out exhibition had been postponed twice due to lockdowns, and no sooner had it opened, it has closed.

I was really lucky to get to see this exhibition, so until the V&A is able to re-open, have a look at my preview to Bags Inside Out. I also want to give you a preview to the fabulous 2020 Christmas tree, designed by Shane Connolly.

V&A Christmas Tree 2020
V&A Christmas tree designed by Shane Connolly

Let’s start | Bags, Inside Out.

“Leather encourages you to be curious…”

Mulberry at The V&A

There are the obvious draws to an exhibition like this with celebrity bags, notable dispatch boxes and more than a Royal bag or two. With over 300 items in this extraordinary exhibition, and a look into the inside and out of bags galore. It has been worth the wait.

Bags | Function and utility

As you begin the exhibition, discover intricate details of historical gowns, the practicality of holding our belongings from the 16th century to the modern day.

Royals feature in this exhibition in a way you’ve not seen before. From the large pocket that held the seal of Elizabeth I, to the gas mask bag of Queen Mary in WWII to the daily bags of the modern Royals.

Winston Churchills correspondence box Bags inside out at V&A
Sir Winston Churchill’s correspondence box

There is no mistaking the stunning correspondence boxes. Notably Sir Winston Churchills, alongside Vivien Leigh’s attaché case.

Bags | Celebrity status

Celebrity bags are nothing new…some may consider it the ultimate accessory. Let’s just look at how Hermes began with style icon Grace Kelly and it continues with Jane Birkin. The Birkin bag is still the most sought after celebrity bag of both the 20th and 21st century. The Birkin bag in the exhibition is the first-ever made for the actress.

The Alexa, The Birkin, The Saddle bag

On the Royal front, Lady Dior, for Princess Diana, Lautner for HM the Queen and how about this green beauty that belonged to Princess Margaret.

Bags inside out Royal bags
Selection of Royal bags

Identifying bags with celebrity endorsement has huge appeal to this day. Seeing many of them alongside each other just shows the power of what we called the ‘It bag’ including one of the most sought after bags of 2010, the Alexa by Alexa Chung for Mulberry. There’s a great game to be had here, in ‘name that bag’!

Bags | Design & Making

Design details and inspiration are everywhere. Where have designers got their inspiration from; Look at Fabergé Eggs, Dairy Milk, Day of Dead skulls, musical instruments, even insects and the obvious florals – they all make an appearance, including leading artists that have lent their names to design for the big designers.

Anya Hindmarch Dairy Milk bag

Mulberry have sponsored this exhibition, and their attention to detail of the bag design process is phenomenal. Understanding the craftsmanship and the lengthy process it takes from beginning to end definitely gives you an appreciation of the work of art they create.

Looking at how the process begins, the sapa mock ups, the materials they use, to the end value of a bag, the time it all takes to make a bag, it is truly extraordinary. Everyone will do it differently I’m sure, but it’s fascinating to see what that process is like.

Details for Bags Inside Out

Bags Inside Out is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the Fashion Gallery. Tickets cost £12.