It has been said that an ‘it bag’ is only an ‘it bag’ if you’re unlikely to ever own one. Characterised by exclusivity, celebrity and exorbitant price tags, ‘it bags’ were first introduced in the mid 1980s, and by the early 1990s small bags emblazoned with corporate designer logos were the accessories in fashion-conscious circles. Glossy advertising campaigns, glamorous brand ambassadors and celebrity style icons, including Lady Diana, encouraged power-dressing executives with high disposable incomes to snap up these luxury wares.
In critique of this phenomenon, Italian designer Franco Moschino produced a series of handbags that parodied the trend for conspicuous consumption. Among them were witty works such as the Steam Iron Handbag (Ferro da Stiro), using white lacquered and metallic silvered leather. Marrying humour and irreverence, Moschino’s surreal visual puns satirised the fashion industry, couture conventions and consumerism. Yet they also drew attention to the social politics of the period, critiquing the stereotypical female clotheshorse and articulating the less glamorous reality that, despite their careers, women remain enslaved to the domestic realm in ways that men do not. Combining luxury with eccentricity, this handbag is an extraordinary example of Moschino’s wit and talent.
Photographed as part of The Exhibit Camp: Notes on Fashion, on View Through September 8th, 2019 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.