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A Handbag That Is Architecturally Structured

By Terence Poh

Max Mara Whitney bag.

The American sculptor, art patron and socialite Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, born in 1875 to the aristocratic Vanderbilt family, devoted large parts of her fortune to supporting women in the arts. Whitney’s legacy is today enshrined in the Whitney Museum of American Art, founded in 1930 to house her 500-odd pieces of American artworks. When the museum moved, in 2015, to the current Lower Manhattan building designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, luxury house Max Mara collaborated with Piano’s Building Workshop to commemorate the museum’s new home with a leather bag, which it named the Whitney Bag.

Featuring a structured boxy silhouette and top-stitched indentations that mimic the ribbed exterior of the building, the leather tote bag was reworked for its 5th anniversary (this year); the bag retains the iconic external design, but bears a newly designed floral print inner lining. The adapted floral pattern, inspired by the artwork of American painter Florine Stettheimer, titled “Sun” (1931), harks back to Stettheimer’s fondness for vibrant primary colours, and serves as a remembrance of her contributions to early feminist activism in the 1990s. Here, Max Mara consolidates the spirit of pioneering feminists with the fashion house’s quintessentially Italian knack for leather craftsmanship.

Max Mara Whitney bag, S$1,499.