What Claire Found in her Mother’s Gucci Bag

The second story in the Heirloom series — cue the tears.

heirloom series - claire ashley

I have to preface this post with a story of my own. Claire is a dear friend of mine. I met her almost four years ago, and she’s had a soft spot in my heart ever since. Claire is one of the nicest, most genuine people I know. Not to mention talented — she’s a makeup artist and beauty vlogger.

Claire was a member of my Georgetown office space, and one year we did a studio sale. We all felt like we had tons of clothes, shoes, and accessories so we did a group studio sale. As we were all sifting through each other’s clothes to make sure there wasn’t anything we wanted ourselves, we about lost it when we saw a few designer items on Claire’s rack. She never wore these items so we asked her why. She said they were her mother’s.

We told her not to sell them, and that’s when she divulged that her mother had quite the designer collection. She started mentioning Gucci bags, Céline bags, and more. Me and the other ladies urged Claire to use the bags. Her mom loved them and would want her to use them. Previously Claire would never carry the bags, I think she felt weird about it.

Earlier this year I asked Claire if she’d be interested in being featured in my new Heirloom series (at this point I thought the bags were meaningful enough) but then she told me a story that was almost unbelievable. We were sitting in a coffee shop and I couldn’t help the lump in forming in my throat and a few tears escaping my eyes after she told me the story. And when I read it back now, I still get teary-eyed.

I’ll let Claire take it from here:

I was thrilled that Meg wanted to feature me in her Heirloom series with some tokens of mine that are nearest and dearest to me. When I worked in Meg’s Georgetown studio, I’d always carry my Gucci handbag with bamboo handles or a Céline handbag with gold hardware accents. Meg always complimented me when I’d wear these two particular black handbags to the office. Whenever I do receive a compliment on my bags, the words go farther than most people know because the meaning that they both bring to me.

I lost my mother to breast cancer at the age of 13. It was by far the most difficult time in my life, especially trying navigate starting life as a teenager all at the same time. One of my strongest memories of my mother is how she’d showcase her vivacious personality through her bold sense of style.

When she passed, my father stored her clothing, accessories, and shoes in boxes up in the attic. It wasn’t until my two sisters and I felt comfortable and old enough, we finally sifted through the boxes all together. It was then that I discovered the Gucci handbag that my mom loved, the one I now carry with me everywhere.

Up until we went through the boxes, I didn’t even know what luxury brands were. I only used purses that I’d find from the local thrift store! My still dad jokes that he continues to pay the bills for the handbags that he gave to my mom.

A few weeks after I started carrying the bags, I reached deep inside the outside lining of the Gucci bag to retrieve my lipstick and felt an article of clothing. I discovered a forest green cardigan lined with large gold buttons that my mom must have left in the bag over 15 years ago. As I pulled the sweater out, I was brushed with exactly what I remember of my mother’s scent. It was a moment that I never thought I’d be able to experience again.

I leave the green cardigan at the bottom of the Gucci bag, just as she had left it. I like to think she brought it to the movies to keep her warm on a date night with my dad, or brought it to an outdoor dinner with her girlfriends as a “just in case it’s cold” cardigan.

These handbags may not be your traditional heirlooms, but just knowing my mother carried these handbags with her essentials makes me feel like I have a part of her with me every day. I am so grateful for that.

Claire Ashley's story of her mother's bags.

Claire Ashley - Gucci Bag & Green Sweater

green sweater in gucci bag - claire ashley

Claire Ashley's story of her mother's bags.

vintage designer bags - claire ashley

green sweater in gucci bag - claire ashley

Claire Ashley - Gucci Bag & Green Sweater

Claire Ashley's story of her mother's bags.

claire ashley and her mother and sisters

Claire Ashley - Celine Bag & Green Sweater

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Read all about the Heirloom series here.

See the story of my mother’s ring which inspired the Heirloom series.

Submit your interesting heirloom story for consideration to hello@megbiram.com with the subject line: Heirloom — Your Name. In this series I will be exposing the stories of special heirlooms. Not just any heirlooms — but heirlooms that have a story. There are lots of heirlooms out there that are meaningful to people and have been passed down in families and that’s great — but my other special heirlooms are probably not very interesting to all of you. I will be sharing the heirlooms that have some sort of interesting story to go along with them. They don’t necessarily have to be long stories, just good stories. Please keep this in mind when submitting your story.

Photos by Emma Weiss