As you know all too well, I have a bit of a thing for handbags. Ok, let’s rephrase that. I have an extreme, bordering on unhealthy obsession with handbags. From roomy totes to impractically teeny clutches, many a slice of arm candy caught my eye during the SS13 press days but some of the bags that really and truly made my heart skip a beat were from Mark Cross 1845. With shapes that exude timeless elegance and colour-popping hues adding a dose of fashion forward fun, I couldn’t help but gravitate towards these beauties at the Matches press day!
1) Scottie Satchel Bag, £1940, click here to buy
2) Grace Box Bag, £1650, click here to buy
3) Scottie Bag, £1610, click here to buy
Of course any bag that looks like these is guaranteed to be a hit with me but one of the things I discovered after the initial “ohmigod” moment was the incredible story behind the brand. Mark Cross 1845 started out as Mark. W. Cross & Co in, you’ve guessed it, 1845 as a purveyor of carridge saddles and harnesses. After the death of its founder, the company was acquired by the American Patrick Murphy who shortened its name to “Mark Cross”, branched out into other luxury leather goods and opened stores in New York and London. But where the tale really gets interesting is when Murphy’s son Gerald gets involved. After studying at Yale and establishing that his talents lay in aesthetics, not academia, the young Gerald Murphy married stunning heiress Sara Sherman Wiborg and relocated to the glamourous Cap d’Antibes. The newlyweds set up home in Villa America where they entertained many of the legendary “bright young things” of the 1920’s including Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter and the Fitzgeralds. But the Murphy’s charm went beyond throwing fabulous parties. F. Scott Fitzgerald notably modeled the main characters Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender is the Night after Gerald and Sara. The couple also coined the phrase “Living Well is the Best Revenge,” which would later become the title of the renowned book about them, written by Calvin Tomkins. But to return to the point of this post, in 1934 Gerald officially took over the Mark Cross brand and expanded its offerings to include luggage, cigarette cases, and even jeweled evening bags, some of which he collaborated on with Seamen Schepps. In Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary film Rear Window, it’s none other than a Mark Cross overnight case in which Grace Kelly packs her clothing. While his family did sell the company, Gerald Murphy stayed on as president until 1955 and Mark Cross 1845 continued to sell beautiful bags to fabulous people until it closed its doors in the 1990s.
As you’ve no doubt guessed already, this story has a happy ending. Two years ago Mark Cross 1845 made one hell of a comeback, looking to its incredible archives to create a collection of exquisite accessories that well and truly deserve the title “modern classics”. In short, I want them all… Big time.
Love Ella. X