In the early 1950s, the casual handbag emerged, as women demanded purses that were both fashionable and capable of holding all their cosmetics and accessories. Large shoulder shopping totes made from straw seemed to capture the spirit of summer and vacationing on the beach.

Soon, affordable and sprightly little baskets of woven rushes were all the rage, like those made by the likes of Los Doradas. These often resembled small handheld picnic baskets with ribbons and decorative elements on top, like plastic or fabric fruits or flowers. This down-market trend, started by Dorset Rex of New York, never appeared on the pages of Vogue, but were well-loved by the “dance hall crowd.” Such bright, colorful straw bags remained popular well into the '60s, when whimsy became the new black.

Straw handbags made of plaited raffia, rattan, rushes, willow, cane, and dried grasses didn’t remain the domain of the plebes for long. In the mid-1950s, sophisticated straw handbags appeared in southern France. Eaton Bag Company issued elegant raffia baskets, as well as trunks made of black-lacquered straw closed with a gilded lock and key. Elizabeth Arden even created a high-fashion take on a shrimp basket, outfitted with a compass in 1956. By 1958, giant hand-woven basket bags were finally staples of high-fashion magazines.

Nantucket, an American company that had been selling straw baskets since the turn of the century, began producing rattan purses, and these became status symbols for the wealthy yachting set who would sail between Nantucket Island and the Riviera. These bags were coveted for their tight weaves, tops and bottoms made of hardwoods like walnut, hand-carved bone ornaments and fasteners, and leather hinges closures wrapped in rattan. Coach, meanwhile, made the straw purse classy and affordable for office workers, adding durable leather trim and handles.

In the 1990s, the decade of the designer handbag, fashion houses once again turned to straw. Karl Lagerfield created purses woven from synthetic straw with Plexiglas handles, while British designer Sonia Rykiel put out a line of little bags made of real straw. Dolce & Gabbana made straw beach bags to go with their straw bikinis, Eric Beamon produced raffia-covered bags, and Lacroix issued wicker bags to match its suits with raffia fringe. Jean-Paul Gaultier even showed a straw bucket bag with real leather handles in 1992.

By 1994, straw bags were veering toward the silly again. Kate Spade explained that her burlap Hula bag for Todd Oldham, fringed with raffia, was meant to be “something Mary Ann from ‘Gilligan’s Island’ would have worn.” Models like Christy Turlington and Estelle Hallyday carried Jamin Puech’s Papou bag, which featured crocheted raffia and a grass-skirt-style fringe. Bottega Veneta took inspiration from a fisherman’s creel for its straw bag with leather trim, while Lulu Guinness created gorgeous straw bucket bags adorned with shells and starfish.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Bag Lady University

Bag Lady University

Bag Lady University is the place to learn about handbag makers from Adrian's, which made Bakelite bags, to Whiting … [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Coach Summer Hampton Bucket Straw Basket Purse Hand Bag Brown Tote 10728Kate Spade Gold Straw ClutchCoach Madison Natalie Python Straw Tote Shopper Handbag Purse 16839Coach Met Straw Multicolor Flower Floral Large Wristlet Purse #f50755 Nwts Coach Straw Embellished Tote Bag 29861 Lowest Price On EbayVtg Furla Cognac Leather And Straw Woven Drawstring Bucket Shoulder BagTory Burch Navy/silver Metallic Straw Stripe Tote Syle No. 11149556 Euc $225Rebecca Minkoff Orange Beige Cora Love Spell Straw Leather Satchel Handbag $395-Michael Kors Large Natural Brown Studded Woven Straw Shopper Shoulder Bag PurseRed Lips Handmade Straw Women Shoulder Bag Clutch Handbag Satchel Bag Size MMint Condition Brighton Woven Straw Leather Flower Milania Handbag PurseJute Woven Straw & Tooled Leather Tote Shoulder Bag Handbag PurseJamin Puech Embroidered Coloured Straw Shoulder BagMichael By Michael Kors Natural Straw Large Santorini Shopper HandbagJute Straw And Leather Beach Tote Shopper Shoulder Bag HandbagJute Straw & Leather Beach Tote Shopper Shoulder BagAuthentic Michael Kors Straw Leather Chain Tote Michael Kors Santorini Extra Large Straw & Leather Tote Beach Bag ShopperBrighton Woven Straw Lg Leather Daisys Flowers Purse Bag Handbag NrCoach Limited Edition Lady Bug Leaf Straw Leather Suede Tote Bag Purse 4439Mz Wallace Straw ToteWomen's Vintage Straw Purse Handbag Tote Bamboo Handle Helen Kaminski Australia Brighton Lorrina Straw Handbag With Blue, Coral, And Green Leather FlowersMarc By Marc Jacobs Natural Straw Coral Small Swing Crossbody Bag Pursenwt $258Coach Purse Pink Straw Dolce & Gabbana Beige Brown Leather Straw Woven Satchel Handbag EvhbCoach Bleeker Straw ToteAuthentic Michael Kors Straw Leather Chain Tote Large SizeHandwoven Straw Natural Fiber Large Tote From Bali, IndonesiaStylish Kids Girls White Floral Flower Straw Sun Beach Hat Cap Tote Handbag SetVintage Brighton Red Heart Straw Handbag Xlarge Straw Shopper Tote Shoulder BagCoach Hamptons Metallic Green Leather Straw Tote Bag Authentic!$698 Coach Shoulder Bag / Handbag Large Purse Leather And Straw Fushia And IvoryVintage John Romain Straw & Leather Purse W/ Brass AccentsGirls Sun Beach Floppy Derby Hat Straw Cap Handbag Set Lace RedGirls Sun Beach Floppy Derby Hat Straw Cap Handbag Set Bowknot BeigeStylish Kids Girls Pink Floral Flower Straw Sun Summer Hat Cap Tote Handbag SetYellow Child Kids Girl Straw Cap Wide Large Brim Summer Beach Sun Hat And BagWhite Child Kids Girl Straw Cap Wide Large Brim Summer Beach Sun Hat And BagMichael Kors Large Gold Straw Tote Purse Bag Anya Hindmarch Straw "ipanema" ClutchVintage 50's Original Gaymode Raffia Straw Cherry Red Bakelite Bamboo PurseMichael Kors Santorini Straw HandbagVintage Brown Woven Leather Straw Medium Shoulder Satchel Tote Purse BagVintage Mid Century Store Stock Ivory Georgette And Pink Straw PurseHand Woven Straw And Leather Hand/shoulder Bag.Baby Girl Wide Brim Summer Floral Beach Straw Sun Hat And Handbag Rose RedAmerican Girl Kits Embroidered Straw Floral Purse Handbag Accessory-rare1bag Multi-color Creative Drinking Straw Pipe Animal Heart Birthday Fruit Clown Light Pink 1set Kid Girl Child Straw Sun Beach Hat Cap Tote Handbag Reticule Mui Mui Straw Floral Flower Handbag Purse Saw It Blogged About Gorgeous Wicker Straw Sling Shoulder Bag Purse Backpack Handbag Tote Dkny Handbag , Black In Straw And Suede, Medium Size, 14"and 16", Backpack Style Tommy Hilfiger Handbag Tote Clutch Purse Bag Beach Comber Canvas Burlap Straw Vintage Woven Straw Colorful Raffia Flowers Tropical Envelope Clutch Hand BagTommy Bahama Natural Woven Straw Leather Large Tote Bag Handbag NaturalVintage 70s Woven Straw Bucket Tote BagGirls Sun Beach Floppy Derby Hat Straw Cap Handbag Set Lace PinkGirls Sun Beach Floppy Derby Hat Straw Cap Handbag Set Lace BlueWhite Child Kids Girl Straw Cap Wide Large Brim Summer Beach Sun Hat And Bag