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In 1876, Wade Davis & Company,
the precursor to Whiting & Davis,
is founded by William H. Wade,
Edward P. Davis and Louis Heckman
In 1892 Mr. Whiting designs the first
mesh bag, with all rings formed and
joined by hand. By 1912 a machine
is invented to automate the mesh
Charles Whiting joins the company in
1880 at age 16 and swiftly moves up
the ranks to management. In 1896,
he and Mr. Davis form a partnership
and raise the money to purchase the
company, renaming it The Whiting &
Whiting & Davis’ beautiful,
high quality purses are the
coveted accessory of flappers,
actresses and “well dressed
women everywhere.” Through
automation and advertising,
the company expands its
reach, becoming, and remaining
to this day, the world’s leading
mesh handbag manufacturer.
In the teens and early ‘20s, Whiting
& Davis bags are made of small
precious metal rings and are
unpainted for the most part, their
striking designs coming from a
mixture of metal colors, artfully
joined rings and metal fringe. By
the end of the ‘20s, flat Armor mesh
painted in bold Deco designs and
Dresden mesh, with its tiny rings
silkscreened by hand in dreamy
Impressionistic shades, take
The 1930s bring high-profile
collaborations with iconic
designers Paul Poiret and Elsa
Schiaparelli, while Whiting &
Davis’ famed creations continue
to turn up in the hands of stage
and screen actresses of the era.
Jane Wyatt with a Whiting &
Davis purse accessory.
The renowned and prolific Elsa
Schiaparelli designs for Whiting &
Davis in the mid 30s, introducing
several new, more modern shapes
to the line.
Beatrice Lille with a Whiting &
Davis ring mesh purse.
Trailblazing French designer, Paul Poiret, the
first to design without rigid tailoring and corseting
while also launching cosmetics, perfumes
and housewares lines, collaborates with Whiting &
Davis to create colorful bags with “Parisian allure.”
During World War II, a shortage of raw materials leads Whiting & Davis
to temporarily stop production of its metal mesh bags and turn its attention
to supporting the war effort by manufacturing radar equipment. At the close
of the war, the company returns to making its signature mesh handbags as
well as other mesh goods.
“Hand in Hand with Fashion”- A Whiting &
Davis slogan of the time.
Jane Russell wears a sleek dress
of Whiting & Davis mesh, weighing
a purported 21 pounds, while
romancing Robert Mitchum in
the 1952 movie Macao.
Whiting & Davis embraces
the Mod Era with simpler
styles and clean lines.
Gold Rush! Whiting’s “soft, sensuous and slithery
handbags,” halter tops and dresses are the perfect
glittering accessories for a decade spent writhing
under disco balls to Donna Summer and ABBA.
Christie Brinkley covers Cosmopolitan, September
1983 in a Whiting & Davis metal mesh dress.
The excesses of the late ‘70s
slide right into the fashions of
the ‘80s, with mesh accessories
and apparel continuing to drape
some of the most beautiful
bodies of the time, …but
apparently not the girl next
door according to this Whiting
& Davis ad featuring Frederique
Van Der Wal.
Frederique Van Der Wal
Absolut Whiting & Davis!
Anthony Ferrara designs a
dress using Whiting & Davis
silver mesh for the iconic
Absolut Vodka campaign.
The cost? A very cool half
Nicole Kidman takes Oscars dressing
to the next level in 1997, wearing a
Dior by Galliano dress and carrying
a vintage Whiting & Davis bag.
The love of Whiting & Davis
handbags (new and vintage)
continues today with top actresses,
musicians, stylists and bloggers.
Kim Cattrall in sequins and zebra print Whiting &
Davis at the height of her Sex in the City fame.
Eva Longoria carries a Whiting & Davis clutch at
the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
In 2002, “Whiting & Davis Purses - The Perfect Mesh”, a book
entirely about Whiting Davis handbags, is published.
Paris Hilton wears a Whiting &
Shakira with a Whiting & Davis crystal
and mesh clutch.
Whiting & Davis remains the recognized leader in metal
mesh handbags more than 120 years after its first mesh
handbag was produced and continues to attract discerning
fans, including actresses, musicians (and you!), by regularly
introducing new styles with an eye toward both trend and
functionality. While that first bag was simple, unpainted
ring mesh, Whiting bags now come in a variety of shapes,
colors and mesh styles with trims such as snakeskin, studs
and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS.
Lady Gaga incorporates a Whiting & Davis gate-top
bag into one of her fabulous outfits.
A 2012 Vogue Germany editorial featuring
a Whiting & Davis fringed bag.
A Whiting & Davis dimple mesh minaudiere in Shape,