HANDBAG HISTORY: The Hermès Birkin

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Oh Birkin, you bag beauty! This is a tale we can hear again and again...

Spotted! Rita Ora's Hermés Birkin

© Getty - Handbag

Both iconic and current, the legendary Birkin bag by Hermès conjures love and adoration whatever the arm it swings from.

Victoria Beckham owns well over 100, Rita Ora, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez are just a few of the army of followers, and waiting lists can spiral for up to six years apiece! But how much do you really know about the cult classic?

We're here to share the splendid story...

Jane Birkin, 1968

© Getty - Handbag



The fruit of a chance meeting between actress Jane Birkin and Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas in 1981, history's most hyped up bag was created not just because Jane was all shiny and amazing. Oh no.

After overstuffing a straw bag with copious clutter on a flight to Paris, the actress startled Mr. Dumas, who was sitting in the seat next to her, with an unprecedented rant as her handbag clutter came crashing out of the overhead locker.

Sound familiar anyone?

A problem solver with a penchant for pretty bags (why is every man not like this?), Dumas saw the whole shoddy spectacle, heard Jane's whines about how nice bags are never quite big enough, then cracked on with creating the spacious Birkin.

Deep, sturdy and rectangular - there's no tipping this bad boy - with a lockable flap closure and cute arm handles, the iconic Birkin comes in six sizes (25cm, 30cm, 35cm, 40cm, 50cm and shoulder style), with an endless stream of colours and leather finishes.

The most expensive? Take a deep breath...

At Auction last year, the glossy saltwater crocodile Birkin finished in white gold and diamonds, went for a whiplashing $203,150! The classic calfskin Birkins however start from around the £6,000 mark. Refreshing in comparison...perhaps?

There is one health warning to note however, (aside from the price tag if you're new to this): along with the leather outer, the bag is also lined with goatskin.

So if you do plan on bagging a Birkin, get on the bicep curls now. That is one heavy handbag!

green Hermes Vintage bag, Matches.com

© Vintage Hermès Birkin , £17,800 , Matches.com



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