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November 06, 2012

Seoul's Simone Handbag Museum

By Nell McShane Wulfhart | Museums

Seoul’s Simone Handbag Museum
Courtesy of Simone Handbag Museum

Occupying a prime position in Gangnam, one of the most fashion-forward neighborhoods in Seoul, South Korea, the Simone Handbag Museum is a shrine to the everyday (and often coveted) accessory. The collection, devised by fashion curator Judith Clark, is comprised of more than 300 items dating from the 15th century to today’s trendiest It bags. Most of these are European, 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.

“Handbags are a very interesting subject in both a fashion and women’s sociology context,” says Dawn Jung, senior curator at the museum. “The path of design as it changed through history tells many stories in terms of material, shape and size.”

The museum, which opened its doors in July to great fanfare, is the pet project of Kenny Park, CEO of Simone Acc. Collection Ltd., a producer of handbags for some of the world’s largest fashion houses. The eye-catching building, shaped like a handbag complete with a handle, houses temporary exhibitions and international loans that will rotate through the museum’s top-floor space. “Carosello Italiano,” the current exhibit (through November 18), displays Italian handbags and landmark pieces from the likes of Fendi, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.

A DIY workshop occupies the museum’s basement, allowing visitors to indulge their dreams of becoming the next Kate Spade. For a fee, a master craftsman assists guests in designing and constructing a handbag, from cutting the leather to sewing the creation into its final shape. 17 Dosan-daero 13gil (Sinsa-dong), Gangnam-gu; 82-2/3444-0912; simonehandbagmuseum.co.kr.