Early 19th Century Ackermann Illustrative Plates Collide With Contemporary Fashion:
Lasell University Students Explore Intrinsic Links Between History and Modern Design
Object ID:
Object Details:
This evening purse from the 1930s is made of blue silk velvet and includes a gold-toned metal frame, finished by a wide fabric handle and lucite double ball clasp. Daytime handbags in the 1930s were often relatively streamlined and practical due to the constraints of the uncertain economic conditions of the period; however, evening bags remained extravagant with lavish and expensive details often paired with a coordinated ensemble. It seems that evening wear served as an escape from the harsh economic realities that plagued the decade where Hollywood created fantastical glamour. As such, there was an element of sophistication with handbag trends including vibrant colors and more boxy shapes.13

Compare to this record: Ackermann Fashion Plate
Cultural Connections:

What is striking about both pieces in this comparison is the deep blue velvet fabric from which they are made. Throughout time, varing shades of blue have often symbolized status, divinity, and even royalty. Blue is so prestigious a color that high-status individuals have historically been known as blue bloods.14 During the 18th century, the term blue stocking emerged to describe an upper-class, intellectual woman, and later, in the Regency era, blue suits become synonymous with dandism, a term used to describe a refined and well-dressed man.15 Additionally, revered religious figures, such as the Virgin Mary and prominent members of royalty in the 19th century, like Isabella II of Spain, are often depicted in blue.16 Similarly, velvet, especially silk velvet, has historically been accessible only to those of high status, sometimes exclusively the nobility.17 In both artifacts, the fabric seems to be used to draw attention to the wearer, displaying prestige and importance.
12 Alison Weir, Henry VIII: The King and His Court, New York: Ballantine Books, 2001, p. 181.
13 "1930s Handbags and Purses Fashion," Vintage Dancer, January 10, 2017. https://vintagedancer.com/1930s/1930s-handbags-purses-history/.
14 Emma Taggart, "The History of the Color Blue: From Ancient Egypt to the Latest Scientific Discoveries," My Modern Met, February 12, 2018. https://mymodernmet.com/shades-of-blue-color-history/.
15 "The Stories of Color Blue," Fashionologia Historiana, April 12, 2018. Alison Weir, Henry VIII: The King and His Court, New York: Ballantine Books, 2001, p. 181.
16 "The Color of Royals," Google Arts & Culture, accessed November 25, 2020. https://artsandculture.google.com/usergallery/the-color-of-royals/2wKyQ40ioxf3IQ.
17 Van der Hoogt, Madelyn, "A Weaver's History of Velvet," Handwoven Magazine, September 29, 2016. https://handwovenmagazine.com/history-of-velvet/.

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