Whenever I come across an item at the thrift store that has an unfamiliar tag, I always find myself asking, “What’s your story?” Whether it’s a beautiful silk and tulle cocktail dress or a brightly colored pair of coulottes, I have to know their history. Who made you? Where did you come from? What led you here? And yes, I do talk to my clothes.
This vintage velvet handbag’s story just begged to be told. It was among lots of other bags in a bin at Thrift Town, but immediately caught my eye due to the oversized lucite handle. I picked it up, ran my hands over the velvet, and fiddled with the kisslock closure. As I was marveling at it, a woman came up behind me, said how beautiful the bag was, and offered some advice for how to clean it up, as the velvet was a little stained. Honestly, the stains didn’t even bother me, so in my cart it went.
When I got home, I opened the bag and saw two letters on the silk lining: MM. I Googled “Vintage MM velvet handbag” and instantly, Morris Moskowitz appeared in the results. I saw lots of similar handbags with the lucite handle, in a range of fabrics and colors. Upon my reading, I discovered that Morris Moskowitz started his own brand in 1948 and carried on creating handbags until the mid 80’s in New York City. The designer was considered a perfectionist, and insisted that anything with the MM logo be of the highest quality. He preferred silk, leather, reptile skin, and fur for his creations and believed the fabric dictated the shape of the handbag. While classic, Moskowitz was able to leave his mark on every purse he created. Looking at the image results, all of the bags have an interesting shape or texture that make them stand out from other like designs of the time. They are truly beautifully designs.
As I scoured Google for more information about this designer, I found out that there is a 1960’s fur Moskowitz bag on display at The Met and that legendary handbag designer, Judith freaking Leiber even worked for him! Mr. Moskowitz has quite the reputation. And rightfully so. He made a name for himself creating artistic yet practical bags for women to enjoy. And now I get to enjoy my little slice of that history with my very own MM handbag.