The Handbags Of Famous Women

If you want a handbag, you will go to a handbag store, perhaps buying the most stylish and fashionable of items. But when it comes to a luxury art handbag sculpture, something truly exceptional is surely required.

That means the handbag that is the subject in question must stand out in some exceptional way. That may be due to its appearance, size or some other visible characteristic. But then again, it could be that the handbag itself has more of a story to tell.

As with so many artefacts, many a handbag will gain importance because of its owner. What could make a more interesting handbag sculpture than one with some stand-out associations?

The Queen will certainly be seen a lot in 2022, with this being her Platinum jubilee.  While there will be various outfits for the fashion fanatics to comment on, many will take note of her handbags whenever she is seen with one.

One only has to look back to 2016 to see this, when Today reported that frequent appearances by the monarch with a Launer handbag helped sales of the brand jump 52 per cent in a year.

Perhaps the woman with whom a handbag is most strongly associated was Margaret Thatcher. The former prime minister, dubbed ‘The Iron Lady’ by the Soviets for her tough character, was seldom seen in public without one and the term ‘handbagging’ was invented to illustrate the notion of her swinging it like a medieval mace when she wanted to get her way or tell someone off.

More conventional fashion icons included Grace Kelly, who once used a Hermes handbag to cover up a baby bump, as well as Audrey Hepburn, who had a wide range of designer bags.

So if you want a custom-made handbag sculpture, there may be many examples linked with famous women that you can choose from.

How Resin Became A Great Art Form

Anyone who is fascinated by and attracted to the sculptures we produce may wonder just how the contemporary resin art that makes such an impact today emerged.

While the origins of some forms of craft can be found way back in the cultures of antiquity and may even be lost in the mists of time, certain styles of art - ranging from painting to sculpture and architecture - developed as particular ‘schools’.

In the case of resin art, the history of using natural resin goes right back to ancient times. After all, it exists in a natural form, secreted from trees and known as amber in its hardened form. It was valued for various purposes, from the Greek belief that it was solidified sunlight to its use as a hallucinogenic drug in some cultures. Naturally, it was ideal for jewellery, especially amber.

Of course, it is now possible to make resin synthetically and, like glass, it can be coloured, moulded and shaped, making it ideal for jewellery, sculptures, various receptacles and furnishings. However, unlike glass it is not easily broken and can withstand hard impacts.

This versatility and robustness made resin an ideal substance to use in art and sculpture, not least because it came with the ultimate promise; that while on the one hand something spectacular and beautiful could be created with it to delight art lovers, collectors, and anyone who wanted their home or property to feature something exceptional, it would not be fragile and vulnerable.

When you see modern sculptures such as those featuring handbags, this is the most contemporary use of resin. As the Tate notes, this has proved popular with modern sculptors - including some items in its own collection.

Some may say art is now more daring, which is arguably true, though of course everything is in the eye of the beholder. But while the likes of Damian Hirst might sometimes push the limits, we believe the representation of fashion in our resin art has a broad and more lasting appeal.

5 Questions with the Creator of Artbag

Meet local Artist and Mother of ARTBAG; known to her art students as Debra Franses. She is gaining recognition for her highly desirable Resin Handbag sculptures in the UK and throughout Buckinghamshire.  Now represented by Clarendon Fine Art with Galleries in Marlow, Beaconsfield, Windsor and nationwide; you can also meet her in person at her studio showroom in Old Amersham High Street.

  1. What is ARTBAG? A giant resin handbag selfie! A transparent Sculpture in Resin shaped like a Handbag  - A portrait of things and people we love full of memories and objects that hold value to us for a myriad of reasons. A baby’s first shoe, a ring, a poem, postcard, badge, ticket to a Bowie concert , a favourite lipstick, a perfume or sunglasses, old watch of a beloved relative, toy car, Lego and so on…all of this encased in a transparent handbag, preserved forever. Perfect for a mother’s day present!
  2. But why a handbag? We are what we carry, literally our beautiful baggage. There is actually something called 'handbagology' by Karen Pine, a Psychology Professor. You may have seen the recent exhibition at the V&A on “Handbags inside out” where the curators explored themes such as handbags as Status symbols, Celebrity worship, believing a bag is an ‘investment’, Identity and Feeling fat? The bag always fits…!
  3. What is it made from? Resin, It looks like glass because it’s perfectly transparent. I love the idea of letting the light come in and revealing what is usually hidden. I also use 22 ct gold plated barbed wire to represent the gilded cage some women may find themselves in as they give up careers for motherhood’s demands.
  4. What gave you the idea to put things inside? I like to play with the memories an object can Its so personal, intimate and individual. My mum is always passing on objects she has collected from my family and each one tells a story. When we lose our memories, we lose our identity. I love how objects hold nostalgic pleasures for the whole family.
  5. Best piece of advice?

Do what you love, do it well and with passion and your audience will find you from my CSM tutor in 2004. Also, my friend from NYC Platon said to me in 2008 it takes a good 15 years to become an overnight success!





Artbags on View at East West Fine Art Naples Florida

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve—or display your wants on the shelf?

British artist Debra Franses creates resin sculptures in the form of transparent handbags, purses, and briefcases containing an array of symbolic items: lipstick tubes, a crystal-encrusted Chanel No. 5 eau de parfum bottle, a string of pearls and glittery ring, dollar bills and Bitcoin symbols, and sunglasses. With plenty of kitsch, the Artbags are a nod to Pop Art in a digital age and demonstrate a construct of how what we curate and display likewise curates and displays us.

Debra Franses' works are often commissioned
Franses’ works are often commissioned

In her works, Franses explores ideas that probe consumption and our intricate relationships with material objects, including as consumable fashion goods and as items that reflect our thoughts, loves, and ambitions.        

Franses’ Artbags arrived last month and are being shown exclusively in Southwest Florida at East West Fine Art in Mercato. Because of their personal nature, they are frequently custom-ordered. Prices, ranging from $9,000 to $35,000, are dictated by style, size, and the value and number of designer objects inside. 

“Every bag is a distillation of who Debra has met, where she has been, and what she has seen,” says gallery co-owner Leeza Arkhangelskaya