Decked out in our girl’s night out best, my friends Carrie, Maria and I headed to the Art Institute of Seattle’s (AIS) Americana Luxury: MOD Explosion fashion installation curated by the Victoria Stowe Collection. The evening was orchestrated by AIS Fashion Marketing students, enrolled in the 3D Visual Merchandising class by Yuliya Suleymanova.
Russian-born Victoria Stowe, a fashion historian, sat with the intimate crowd and presented a history of American mid-century designer luxury skin handbags. Her book, Exotic Skin Handbags: Alligator and Crocodile, outlines the 100-year history of prestigious exotic skin handbags, and their place in fashion as ultimate status symbols recognized since the 19th century. It’s amazing to see how this style of handbag has stayed prevalent still in today’s society. Many designer handbags still take the skin look from the 19th century and recreate it, with brands like Gucci still holding onto the snake and crocodile skin look with their handbags. This is so loved by many that people who can’t afford these brands will even seek out replica designer handbags to keep on trend with high-end exotic skin fashion.
Victoria has devoted over a decade to researching 100-year history of exotic skin handbags and has assembled an incredible collection of history, which was on display that evening.
It was fascinating to listen to her talk (her accent alone is just beautiful to listen to) about the history of high-end brands such as Herms and Lucille de Paris, the implementation of the Endangered Species Act in regards to the use of exotic skins, and even the meticulous detail it took to create each unique bag by hand.
If you are interested in reading more about the history of these handbags, you can pick up a copy of Victoria’s book on Amazon here.
Stayed tuned for more upcoming events put on by the students at the Art Institute of Seattle!