If I Were A Purse, I’d Be…
It’s been almost three months of working at one of the most unique places on Earth, ESSE Purse Museum and Store. ESSE is located in the South Main (SoMa) District of Little Rock, Arkansas, off the cuff of a bustling downtown, and it is a fusion of art, history, community, the divine feminine, and culture. This magical place tells the story of the 20th Century American woman through her handbag, over 100 years of history that weaves together the tapestry of life for women in many climates of social, political, war-torn, and celebratory movements in time.
Now being a part of this magic, I often think about “If I were a purse, what kind of purse would I be?”
Though I was born in the 1980’s, I’m fascinated with the era my mother grew up in, the 1960’s and 70’s. At that point in history, major Civil Rights strides were being made in the country; women were wearing pants and burning their bras, and fashion had evolved to highlight the feminine form and also add utility to what women were dressed in. With all of this in mind, if I were a purse, I’d be a fringe bag…
Fringe was particular popular in the 1970’s, seen on clothing and bags alike in that time period. Displayed inside the 1970’s case at ESSE Purse Museum is a brown suede bag, adorned with turquoise beads and a long strap. This is the purse I would be; made of fringe, representing flirty fun and freedom, a purse that moves in the wind, a purse that dances on the hips of a woman who has split her body open to birth babies, a purse that hangs proudly off a shoulder exposed in the radiating sun, a purse that crosses over a body and its strap thuds with the beat of a heart.
I would be a fringe purse, an ode to my mother in a time when she was young, wild, and free… and a declaration of the woman I have become.