Unpacking The History of Box Purses

Unpacking The History of Box Purses
Handbags have long been more than just accessories, they are statements of style and history. Of the many ways woman have carried their belongings out and about, one of the most iconic is the box purse. With their hard, protective outer shells, a box purse could keep all your valuables safe from the elements. From their humble beginnings to becoming coveted fashion pieces, these purses have shaped the landscape of accessory design.
Box purses, initially known as vanity cases, made their debut in the early 20th century. These structured bags, often crafted from materials like engraved metal or leather, were designed to hold cosmetics and other personal items. The general size of the box bags of this era tends to be quite small, intended to be worn on the wrist. The concept quickly gained popularity, evolving into a must-have fashion item by the 1920s.
Enter the mid-20th century, and the fashion scene witnessed a revolutionary shift with the introduction of Lucite. Developed in the 1930s, Lucite, a transparent thermoplastic, became a game-changer in the world of box purses. Designers embraced the versatility of Lucite, creating handbags that were not only stylish but also allowed for innovative designs and color variations. The transparency of Lucite lent a modern and futuristic edge to box purses, making them coveted accessories for fashion-forward individuals.
Around the same time, early plastics began to influence the world of handbag design. Bakelite, an early synthetic plastic, was particularly popular for its durability and ability to mimic the look of more expensive materials, including Mother of Pearl and Tortoiseshell. Box purses crafted from early plastics showcased intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and unique shapes, adding a playful and eclectic touch to fashion during the mid-20th century.
In the 1960s, the fashion world witnessed the emergence of Enid Collins and her enchanting wooden bags. Enid Collins, an American artist and designer, captured the hearts of fashion enthusiasts with her handcrafted wooden purses adorned with whimsical and intricate designs. Each bag was a work of art, featuring collages, painted motifs, and charming embellishments. Collins' creations became iconic, celebrated for their craftsmanship and individuality.
Enid Collins' wooden bags marked a departure from the conventional materials used in handbag design. Her commitment to handmade craftsmanship and artistic expression resonated with a generation seeking unique and personalized accessories. The wooden bags, often named and adorned with creative themes, became highly sought-after collector's items, further solidifying Enid Collins' influence on the fashion landscape.
Mid Century Red Lucite Box Purse Devil's Details
The history of box purses, enriched by the innovations of Lucite, early plastics, and the artistic brilliance of Enid Collins, showcases the dynamic evolution of accessory design. These purses have not only reflected the trends of their respective eras but have also left an indelible mark on the world of fashion. As we continue to celebrate the diversity and creativity within accessory design, the legacy of box purses lives on, reminding us that style is not only about what we wear but also about the stories our accessories tell.
Shop our fabulous collection of box purses here, at Devil's Details.