New Yorker columnist Andrea Lee has written "...for the past several years we have been living in a gilded age of handbags: a rococo time of profligacy, opulence, heights of stylistic genius and depths of vulgarity, but, above all, a time of exponential proliferation and vitality. Since the turn of the millennium, the role of the handbag has changed from that of a useful but peripheral accessory to the absolute object of desire."


This installation of hand bags and art works inspired by the bag form is from the collection of Auckland art collector and retired fashion designer Carole Hutchinson. Purchased locally, and from as far away as New York and Tokyo, this is the collection of a discerning fashionista that also includes treasured inherited items.


Legendary and honoured New York style icon Iris Apfel, who is internationally acclaimed for her personal style and observations on style, has disclosed that she has "worshipped at the altar of accessories". Iris says;


For me the key to personal style lies in accessories.


Accessories have great transformative powers.


Personal style is curiosity about oneself.


When you don't dress like everybody else, you don't have to think like everybody else.


These observations share the view that the accessory fashions the person as much as it fashions the outfit. As Apfel observes, personal style can be understood as a curiosity about the world and a mark of an individual's confidence and willingness to engage with change.


Carole Hutchinson and Iris Apfel have a number of similarities; extensive professional careers working with textiles, enthusiasm for contemporary art, reputations for high levels of personal style - although Hutchinson's preference is for a black wardrobe rather than Apfel's multi-coloured approach. The handbags in Carole Hutchinson's collection in their diversity of form and material compliment both her wardrobe and herself. They are her companions in a life which embraces art and design and are a constant demonstration of her zest of life itself.