Mark Cross Grace Box Handbag
Nostalgia can hit hard, especially on wintery, cloud-full days. As the things we obsess over become less tangible objects and more abstract ideas on illuminated iPhone screens, we long for the tactile happiness of the past. Gatsby Syndrome 2.0. Ironically Gatsby’s green light still remains, blinking, but his house was torn down last summer. I read it on the front page of a newspaper, but was reminded of it today reading an article on Style.com summarizing the highlights of Fall 2013 fashion week. Deputy Editor Matthew Schneier wrote of the Marc Jacobs show, “That giant, distorting sun, which turned everything sepia, seemed to me to capture the spirit of the moment: the way the future has begun to look like an imaginary vision of the past.”
The thing about nostalgia is that you can love a thing, like a Victorian corset or a tatty grunge tee, or you can love an idea, like Belle Epoque Paris or getting dressed up to ride in airplanes. Mark Cross handbags will satisfy both.
Mark Cross is one of the oldest companies in the United States, dating back to 1845 Boston, MA. As a leather goods brand they made saddles and horse accoutrements, weathered a Civil War, and opened and closed a shiny flagship on Fifth Avenue. Their handbags offered today are exquisitely made with red leather interiors and all the trappings of old world craftsmanship: locks, gold buckles, embossed leather stamps. It’ll make you feel like a heroine to carry a Mark Cross bag.
But the story of the brand is so much richer than just of leather goods makers. Mark Cross was purchased just around the turn of the 20th century by Peter Murphy, father to Gerald Murphy. Gerald would marry Sara Wiborg, an heiress in her own right, and around 1921 Gerald and Sara packed their bags (Mark Cross luggage, no doubt) and set off for Europe. First, Paris, then Cap d’Antibes. If you liked Midnight in Paris, you’re going to love Gerald and Sara Murphy, who lived the real life Woody Allen so desperately dreamed of. Among their closest friends they counted F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Picasso sketched Sara frequently. They underwrote Hemingway’s novels and Diaghilev’s famed Ballets Russes. Both were painters themselves. They lived in artistic bliss at their Villa Americana in the South of France, rubbing elbows with the artists who defined the 20th century. The protagonists in Tender is the Night, Dick and Nicole, are modeled after Gerald and Sara, and the novel dedicated to them.
Outside of the family, Mark Cross left a permanent mark on popular culture. Hitchcock’s Rear Window featured exclusively Mark Cross luggage. Grace Kelly used the now-titled Grace Box bag to transport her lingerie when she traveled. It’s easy to imagine the tiny box bag held by her perfectly manicured hands, from Los Angeles to Monaco.
Despite enough history to fill a textbook, Mark Cross bags still feel relevant now, perhaps because the company has been somewhat under the radar since reopening in 2010. But not for long. Get a Grace Box and start your own adventure, tinged a little sepia with the past.