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Melting the mystery of lucite

July 12, 2010

You can be forgiven for not knowing what lucite is, but if you are into fashion you are likely to acutely aware of this strange material that has created headlines for almost 60 years.

Lucite is a transparent thermoplastic, that was developed in 1928, but found fame in handbags of the 1940s and 1950s era.  They were revolutionary at the time because as it is described, it is ‘transparent’ so women had to be very confident, carrying one of these moulded beauties, with all their personal effects visible.

This image here is of Marie Windsor and Jack Hupp, that I located on a fantastic blog called Here’s Looking like You, Kid.  The photo itself is actually taken from the Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir, by Eddie Muller.

But lucite had many other uses too, also in the 40’s and 50’s it was used to create automobile hood ornaments, typically used on the Pontiac, but also for guitars and more recently as the base of heels for shoes. Stemming from its key features of being strong and light weight, the uses of this clear plastic type substance have been extensive and it is still keenly used today in a variety of ways including helmets, tobacco pipes and guitar pics.

But do not think that it is not still used for bags! On the contrary, it is very much still in fashion. Only a few years ago Chanel brought out a range of ‘naked’ bags (shown to the right), as did a number of other designers.

It therefore seems that lucite is here to stay, whether you want to make a modern or vintage statement with it, there is quite literally a lucite bag for everyone to see through!

My pick though is this gorgeous little vintage purse from Stylehive that did retail for around $80USD, that is before it was sold.


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