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Simone Acc. Collection Ltd. opened a handbag-themed building in Garosugil, Seoul, called “BagStage” celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding.

The BagStage building is five stories above ground with five underground levels, featuring Simone Handbag Museum, a store for Simone’s own original brand 0914, a workshop where anyone can enjoy the experience of handbag-making, and a space where various leather materials are exhibited and sold.

On the first floor, 0914 store is located. 0914 is the Simone’s own original brand, who has been leading the world’s luxury, designer brands handbag market. Past the building’s entrance shaped like a small stage and down the steps is the Museum Café and the Museum Shop on the first floor below ground.

On the third and fourth floors below ground, some 500 different kinds of leather materials developed by Simone from around the world, including France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, India and Brazil, are displayed in various ways. This space provides a chance for not only handbag designers, but also for apparel and shoe designers, interior designers and everybody else to be introduced to new types of leather materials. Also on the same level, there is a workshop where anyone can try making a handbag themselves. Big and small machineries and gadgets needed for making a handbag, ranging from sewing machines to logo pressers and leather skiving machines, help the public experience being a craftsman.

At the heart of the BagStage building is Simone Handbag Museum, set to show the history of handbags from the third to the fifth floors. Some 300 handbags from the 16th through the 21st Century is on display, collected through global auctioneers like Sotheby’s and others from private collectors around the world. On the third floor, the Modern Gallery shows the modern history of handbags of the 19th and 21st centuries. The Historical Gallery on the fourth floor introduces handbag archives from the 16th through 19th centuries.

The Simone Handbag Museum Project has been led by Judith Clark, the former head curator of England’s Victoria and Albert Museum and current professor at London College of Fashion with her team for the past years. Their work has been ranging from collecting handbags, making a record of the history of handbags in collaboration with Yale University titled “Handbags: The Making of a Museum,” to even designing the interior of the museum.

Judith Clark, who is also an installation artist, specially made a total of 18 mannequins that are different from the usual ones used in displaying clothes. These mannequins are made to highlight handbags using vintage silhouettes, realistic gestures and diverse poses. In addition, a new type of specially designed cabinets didn’t only display historic handbag artifacts, but also suggest a brand new paradigm of an exhibition at a museum.

The building serves as a stage for bags, displaying the backstage of Simone who has been working as a collaborational partner with European and American high-end bag brands over 25 years.

BagStage showcases the past of handbags through the museum reminiscing its roots and history; the present of handbags through the stores that offer the latest innovations and new trends in the handbag industry; and the future of handbags through the display of objects and ideas.

No visitor to BagStage will leave the building without a handbag. Those who shop will leave with a handbag actually in their hands; those who visit the museum will leave with memories and new knowledge in their minds; those who see the displays of materials will leave with a newfound passion for handbags in their hearts. More than anything else, it is hoped that the building will inspire people to create a bright future for Korean fashion, especially young people who want to become handbag designers, merchandisers and product developers.