A Certain Style

Robert Gottlieb, Author, Frank Maresca, Photographer, Frank Maresca, With Knopf Publishing Group $35 (119p) ISBN 978-0-394-56893-5
The 92 American-made plastic handbags from the '40s and '50s exhibited here wear an unmistakable air of the harem. And so they should. Ingeniously wrought companions for the women who carried them, they long served vanity, personalityand uncannily survived all. The result is a gallery of superior fetish objects; their beauty is skin-deep and oracular. The marbled whorls of a Wilardy product cling to its trim, sharp profile; glassy, metal-studded facets bristle on a lady-like grenade made by Maxim Originals. Though pronounced ``hard-edged, heavy, and noisy'' by collector and New Yorker editor Gottlieb, the handbags are photographed, in full color, as though each conceals a primitive wisdom. Gottlieb insists that ``this is what they really look likeif you really look,'' and his casually graceful historical sketch is as convincing, in its own way, as the visionary portraits in this unusual and provocative book. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
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