Could you believe that handbags remains over time the number one women accessory that nowadays has its very own museum?! Here’s the  proof: Simone Handbag Museum, a place which isn’t only dedicated to conserve and display a unique and stunning collection of handbags, but also showcase a fashionable work of architecture. The museum is located in Gangnam, one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Seoul, South Korea, and since its opening in July 2012, it draws tourists and visitors attention firstly by it’s unusual building shape which looks like a purse itself, with huge loop handles on top to honor handbags, some of the most fashion  details worn worldwide.

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The plans for this five-story building called Bagstage of Simone Handbag Museum was designed by Korean architects UAD and Charlie Smith Design and features an all-glass façade and contemporary interiors that are home for an amazing collection consisting of more than 300 historical handbags dating from the 15th century to the present day, a shop selling bag materials, a designer studio for up-and-coming Korean who can work rent-free and a flagship store. Divided into two halves ( Twentieth Century and Contemporary and Historic), the museum is the initiative of Kenny Park, CEO of Simone Acc. Collection Ltd., which is a passionate handbag producer for some of the largest fashion houses in the world, while the impressive collection was assembled by renowned curator of fashion history exhibitions Judith Clark, Professor of Fashion and Museology at the London College of Fashion.

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It took two years to organize it in what is today: a permanent, quite detailed handbags collection with European origin most of them and some contemporary ones from the United States, including  exquisitely crafted reticules and “sweetmeat” bags, gunmetal mesh purses from the late 19th century and recent creations like an Alexander McQueen clutch printed with the Union Jack. Bespoke maniquins designed especially for Simone Handbag Museum display various handbags with different styles and a level of craftsmanship that barely survives in today’s handbags highlighting how they contributed to female identity over time.

All find that handbags symbolize the emancipation of women, but few of us know that handbags were initially used before for carrying smelling herbs and after that money. So, it’s very interesting to see how things changed since than regarding their use, size, techniques and materials they are crafted. Recent pieces and trends from the 1900s could be found at the ground floor, whilst the upper level exhibits bags from earlier years. Dedicated DIY workshops are constantly held to give young designers the possibility to create their own bag and use that specific tools needed to design a purse, and after that sell their works in an area made for exclusively for them.

So, ladies, if your next trip is to Seoul, make sure you find some time to visit the Simone Handbag Museum. Besides a great fashion history lesson, a peek inside the retail store might give you the chance to leave with a purse in case you’ve entered without one.

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Photos © UAD and Charlie Smith Design