Ilene Wood’s handbag collection set to woo fashion connoisseurs

Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites debuted 'PURSEonality: A Stylish Handbag History' showcasing 3,000 bags owned by the fashionista

By Author  |  Published: 20th Oct 2019  3:25 pm
Ilene Wood's handbag collection set to woo fashion connoisseurs

Ilene Hochberg Wood from Pennsylvania owns a collection of 3,000 handbags, each of which can be a cause of envy for the ardent connoisseurs of fashion. Wood, 64, in her Lehigh Valley estate, has a collection of everything including crossbodies and clutches, wristlets and duffels, hobos and backpacks, The Inquirer reported.

She also owns handbags in different shapes such as Converse sneaker, shoulder bag and other pieces drip with kitschy nostalgia like a pocketbook stamped with the Hess Brothers department-store logo.

However, the real heart-stoppers are Wood’s designer babies. Fashion’s marquee names are all represented Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Moschino. She also has Judith Leiber minaudieres, Edie Parker clutches, and Louis Vuitton satchels.

Her collection also boasts of scores of Kellys and Birkins. There are the rare Anne Marie of Paris’ sculptural darlings of which she has 19.

Wood’s most expensive acquisition includes a flaming-red, 40-centimetre crocodile Kelly that she estimates to be worth at least $1,00,000. Wood keeps most of her bags in an impenetrable, stainless steel bunker outfitted with electronic doors and alarms.

She had ordered the bunker online seven years ago from the Army. Half of the space two Jaguars reside on the other side is filled with sealed 18-gallon plastic storage bins stacked on top of each other that are overflowing with bags. The bins are organised thematically, with descriptive labels like “wooden top handle,” “leather shoulder bags,” and “evening bags” neatly taped to the outside.

Beauts that cost thousands of dollars live next to those that might have cost $10 or less. “I collect handbags on every level,” Wood stressed while speaking to The Inquirer.

“Not everyone can spend on handbags what it costs to buy a car or a house and I get it… My collection is about the democratisation of fashion,” she was quoted as saying.

Earlier this month, the Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites debuted ‘PURSEonality: A Stylish Handbag History’ at three Lehigh Valley museums, starring hundreds of handbags from Wood’s collection.

However, Wood wants to open her own handbag museum, and she hopes “PURSEonality”, which will run through April 30, is the first step. This is the first show dedicated to Wood’s massive collection.