We all know that artists can turn out a pretty nifty handbag when they put their mind to it. Most of us remember the lively interpretations of the Louis Vuitton handbag created by Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami and, more recently, Yayoi Kusama. Now London artist Boyarde Messenger has gone one further, wafting her painterly magic over a handbag you already own. Messenger has had exhibitions in Cork Street and the Saatchi Gallery and is most famous for painting women’s bottoms, which she photographs and which are available as limited-edition prints. She has long been fascinated by what she calls the heyday of Hollywood glamour and loves playing with notions of female stereotypes. She now has a flourishing niche in customising handbags, onto which she paints an original Boyarde Messenger work of art.
It all began when Charlotte Olympia asked Messenger to customise 100 pairs of shoes for Neiman Marcus as part of Art Basel week. From there, it was a small segue into handbags. The result is a curiously compelling combination of the grand – the Birkin (first picture), the Kelly, the Louis Vuitton Bowling bag – and the kitsch. Prices depend on the size and complexity of the commission but they start at £1,600 – the customer, obviously, provides the bag.
At Etro, the boho Italian label had the great idea of asking a couple of little-known (outside their country) Indian artists, Thukral and Tagra, to have fun with the brand’s beloved paisley pattern and use it on a capsule collection of bags and small leather goods. It’s a joyful range of shoppers (£380, second picture), satchels, duffels and wallets (from £204 for a tablet cover to £640 for a proper zipped bag).