Handbag lovers should ensure they take some time out from shopping next time they're visiting South Korea. The country's capital, Seoul, will open the doors of its Simone Handbag museum next month.
The museum is the brainchild of famed handbag maker Kenny Park, who saw the venture as a permanent and comprehensive ode to the world of women's fashion accessories. He enlisted renowned fashion exhibition curator Judith Clark to see his dream become a reality. She spent the last two years working with academics and curators to assemble the museum's exhaustive archive.
The Simone Handbag Museum will introduce its visitors to more than 300 historic handbags, dating from the 16th century to modern day classics. Many of them are European bags, although some modern designs from the United States are also represented. The exhibition celebrates the role of handbags in expressing and shaping feminine identity throughout history.
"These handbags were used for dramatically different purposes than how they are used today. Some were for carrying smelling herbs or 'sweetmeats' — candies — and then money. The handbag symbolized the emancipation of women — they were able to finally spend money, gaining more freedom over the years," Clark explained in a recent interview. "The idea of 'labels' and 'it bags' is a 20th-century phenomenon, coinciding with the rise of the cult of the designer."
The Simone Handbag Museum opens in Seoul on July 19. If you can't visit the South Korean museum, have no fear. An accompanying book, dubbed The Making of a Museum, will hit stores around the world in September.