The Intriguing History Behind Mark Cross Bags

Nicole Kliest

Every it bag has a story, but not every accessory's background entails a 171-year history with owners who cavorted with the likes of Lost Generation notables such as Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway—unless you’re Mark Cross. The company was founded in 1845 in Boston as a carriage saddle and harness carrier. After its namesake’s death, Patrick Murphy continued the business. His son Gerald would take over the brand in 1934, but only after a storybook life abroad—details on that below.

After marrying an heiress (as one does), he moved to Paris with his new wife. There the couple spent time in Villa America entertaining legendary literary, musical, and art figures like Cole Porter, the Fitzgeralds, and, as previously mentioned, Hemingway and Picasso. The Murphys famously coined the phrase “Living well is the best revenge,” which eventually became the title of a Calvin Tomkins book. The pair also frequently traveled to the South of France to work on their paintings (and sun tans, we presume).

Once Gerald took the reigns at Mark Cross, the brand increased its offerings to luggage, cigarette cases, and evening bags. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window even featured Grace Kelly packing her clothes in an overnight bag by the brand. And yes, that’s why the company still sells bags named after the actress!

The company closed its doors in the 1990s but reopened in 2011, using the same factories in Italy as the originals. Mark Cross continues to draw heavy inspiration from its roots and find clever ways to weave its luxurious history in with a more modern sensibility. Intriguing, no?

Now that you’re up to speed on the history of Mark Cross, scroll down to shop some of our favorite bags from the brand!

Did you already know the history of Mark Cross? Tell us in the comments!

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