Bags and purses made from metal mesh were first made in the early 19th century, but were the objects of absolute luxury. The intricate mesh was made by gold- and silversmiths, and suspended from a frame studded with precious stones. The metal mesh bag came back into fashion in the late 19th century, when exquisite tiny purses were worn hanging from the waist in a faux-medieval style.
The invention of a mechanized process for making a metal mesh in 1908 meant that such ‘trinkets’ became much more affordable, and by the mid-1920s, metal mesh bags and purses were a staple part of the flapper’s evening wardrobe.
Elongated bell-shaped silhouettes, lacy or zigzag fringes, and Art Deco or Egyptian-style clasps were all common features, adding just the right note of jazzy sparkle to a long-fringed Charleston dress. The leading maker was the US company Whiting and Davis, whose designs were commissioned from some of the leading couturiers of the day, Paul Poiret and Elsa Schiaparelli among them.
Shimmering and fluid, light as a feather and tough as nails, the 1920s metal mesh bag had all the ingredients for the perfect evening accessory. It was a bag to match the moonlight on a late-night walk in St. Tropez.