Latest Stories

The Bag Hag Diaries

How Angèle Lancel made handbags indispensable to women


THIS VINTAGE Lancel briefcase satchel would not look out of place today.

It’s not often one is given access to things of great historical value to a fashion house. So when I was invited to view the bag archives of one of the most prestigious French luxury maisons in Paris, I had to restrain myself from jumping with glee.

During Paris Fashion Week, I visited the Lancel headquarters on the 14th arrondissement—an imposing all-glass building that also houses the Fondation Cartier.

As I was greeted by Xavier Le Borgne, head of branded retail for Asia-Pacific, and Guy Tarricone, the “gatekeeper” of the Lancel archives, I saw the historical bags lined up, waiting to be talked about.

MADAME Lancel’s creations included pipes and articles for smokers and this delicate Chinois-themed purse, all circa 1900s.

From there, I was transported back to 1876, the time of Angèle Lancel. When women’s roles were confined to being wives, mothers or anything related to running a household, Angèle boldly carved out a different role by putting up a leather goods company with her husband, Alphonse. She successfully defied traditional women’s roles and redefined what it meant to be a woman during that time.

Angèle began by creating articles for smokers before eventually venturing into goods tailored for women. She knew what a woman needed—because she herself was a woman who needed such articles.


Working with delicate fabrics and rather unconventional materials that challenged her creativity, she made sure all articles kept to the feminine aesthetic without sacrificing functionality. She included mirrors and incorporated compartments.

LANCEL archives’ Guy Tarricone with head of Asia-Pacific branded retail, Xavier Le Borgne

Lancel cleverly intended these bags with secret compartments to hold a woman’s little “knick knacks.” There was even a bag that combined the beginnings of Lancel (articles for smokers which included a portable ashtray) with modern design into a proper ladies’ handbag. It was a very clever creation at that time—which continues to fascinate to this day.

There were also mixed textures (calfskin with python) that incorporated detailed filigree and enameling on the edges—an entirely new concept then.

Exotics regularly formed part of Lancel’s repertoire of bags. And because of Angèle, the handbag has since become an essential piece in a woman’s wardrobe today.

EXQUISITE fabric pochette with a twist-lock enclosure—a very timeless style that would still be perfect for use today

While Angèle and Alphonse founded Maison Lancel, it was their son Albert who propelled the label to new heights. Today, the Maison’s design team still looks to the archives as inspiration and continues to fine-tune its collections to suit a modern woman’s wants and needs in a handbag.

So the next time you walk into a Lancel boutique, always remember the heritage behind each bag—that every piece produced by the Maison is an ode to the vision of its female founder, a powerful and independent woman who was way ahead of her time. And let that also be a deciding factor for your bag purchase—knowing the heritage of the brand is part of  the investment.

Ingrid Chua- Go is the blogger of www.thebaghagdiaries.com. Follow her on twitter.com/thebaghag.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Accessories , Angèle Lancel , fashion , Handbags , Lifestyle , Women

  • circafashion

    love lancel, and my bucket bag is my fav!

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  5. Almost mugged on Chino Roces Avenue
  6. How healing waters accompanied my journey of faith
  7. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  8. ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  9. Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  10. Philippine novelist wins US book award amid cancer and ‘Yolanda’
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  7. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  6. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  7. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  8. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  9. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • 22 houses destroyed, 3 hurt as violent wind storm hits village
  • 242 out of 438 pass board tests for chemical engineers
  • Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  • 5 OFWs from Negros quarantined for MERS-CoV tests
  • Release of village chief’s truck caught carrying illegal logs slammed
  • Sports

  • Jackson finds second wind to push Meralco past Rain or Shine
  • NLEX fights off Derulo Accelero to remain unbeaten
  • Mayweather diehard Bieber eats pride, poses with Pacquiao for photo op
  • Power Pinays rip Singapore to enter quarters in Asian volley tilt
  • PBA D-League: Waves edge skidding Superchargers
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Oil prices to go up on supply concerns, optimism on US rebound
  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • QC woman who flew in from Middle East tests negative for MERS-CoV
  • DFA, DOH urge OFWs not to panic over MERS-Cov
  • Balikatan could spoil peace talks, says militant group
  • DFA officers hold workshop on aiding human traffic victims
  • Canada in communication with PH on toxic wastes