Burnt Out on New York Fashion Week? Little Rock's Purse Museum Exhibits the Sexy and Empowered

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Nancy Nolan
On the surface, Esse Purse Museum is, yes, a fun museum about purses. Located in the trendy South Main district of Little Rock, Arkansas, the Esse collection includes more than 3,500 purses, handbags, clutches, totes or any other name you want to call the things we carry to hold all the things we need to carry.

The name "Esse" refers to the essence of a woman as defined through her handbag. It's thanks to the efforts of "owner/collector/visionary" Anita Davis that this museum -- the first brick-and-mortar one dedicated to purses -- is open for fashionistas and historians to enjoy.

It doesn't take a Gloria Steinem to recognize the deeper story of Esse is that of women's rights, freedom of expression and the social revolution of one-half of our population. The earliest purses were delicate little numbers for genteel ladies to carry nothing more than calling cards and handkerchiefs. By the time women could carry laptops, cell phones and even handguns, their handbags became as sturdy as women themselves.

It would be totally unfair to showcase beautiful purses without giving women an opportunity to add to their personal collection: more than two dozen designers from around the world have work for sale at this Little Rock museum. And Esse is the only U.S. outlet for handbags by Russian designer Anya Sushko.
Nancy Nolan
Nancy Nolan

Nancy Nolan

Nancy Nolan

Nancy Nolan

Nancy Nolan

Nancy Nolan
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