PIECE OF HISTORY TO WEAR
The Edwardian period began when Queen Victoria's son was crowned King Edward VII of England. He brought cosmopolitan flair to the arts and fashion following restraints of the Victorian era. "Appearances are never unimportant," as advertised Mark Cross in 1902. King Edward's love of elegance was translated into a new trend for gentlemen's accessories: crocodile wallets, flasks, portfolios, cigar cases, desktop accessories, etc. Travel bags and metal or shell frames became the hallmark of the Edwardian style. Large compartment bags, stirrup pouches, and wrist bags were decorated in the prevalent Art Nouveau style. Their key feature was the enameling and a variety of new materials for trimmings, such as tortoiseshell, ivory, glass and gemstone cabochons, often skillfully carved with nature motifs. Affordable "economy class" casual bags over 10" wide were often made from man-made materials (embossed goatskin or early vinyl called "pebble finish rubber"). They were cloth-lined, with japanned frames. Most luxurious were Edwardian alligator bags with one-piece shell frames sold at Bonwit Teller & Co. and Gimbel Brothers in 1918. Daytime bags in tailored styles were large and spacious, about 12" wide, and the fitted envelopes imported from France and England were quite small and delicate.