In the 20th century, art and fashion movements came and went in rapid succession and the handbag evolved alongside. However, women’s emancipation was the most influential factor in the shaping of the handbag. More and more women were employed and as they became more mobile, their handbags had to meet a growing variety of practical needs. This resulted in all sorts of bags for specific purposes such as leather document cases for going to the office, practical leather and plastic daytime bags for walking and visiting, elegant, sparkling bags and minaudières (metal clutches) for evening use.
Branding became increasingly important during the 20th century and the great handbag designers emerged. Designers known all over the world for their exclusive handbags and leatherware include Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada. For fashion designers such as Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Donna Karan and Dolce & Gabbana, the handbag has become an important accessory. In contrast with the past centuries, in which design could remain unchanged for many decades, the handbag has now developed into a fashion accessory, changing with every season.