In the thirties, feshion designer Elsa Schiaparelli created a stir with her Surrealist fashion accessories and bags. At that time, many bags were made in entirely out-of-the-ordinary shapes, such as the clutch bag in the shape of the luxurious French cruise ship the Normandie. During its maiden voyage from France to the United States in 1935, all the first class passengers received one,
As a reaction to the sober war years, in the fifties handbags were made that were striking and novel in their use of material and shape, a development that led to some surprising bag shapes. And in certain periods, bags with unusual decorations or unconventional pictures were popular. The designers Enid Collins, Judith Leiber and Lulu Guinness created striking bags that are now sought after by collectors the world over.
One example of such an unusual object is a bag with a little light. The first idea for such a bag originated in 1922. That year, the Londoner Alfred Dunhill [1872-1959] applied for a patent for a handbag with a little light that went on automatically upon opening the bag. The invention must have sparked the imagination, because between the wars and at the beginning of the fifties various imitations followed.
One special bag with a light is the leather Lite-on made in 1953 by Amsterdam native L.F.W. Straeter. The model is often wrongly ascribed to Elsa Schiaparelli, In addition to lipstick, comb, cigarette and perfume holders, this bag has a little light so that everything can be found instantaneously, The light also shines out through an opening in the bag so that a keyhole can be found with no difficulty.