UPDATED: Here’s a look at the iconic Hermes Birkin bag…
History of the Hermes Birkin bag
This large, expensive tote of iconic status was created for and named after the haute-hip celebrity Jane Birkin, English born but a long-term resident of France.
Birkin has famously partnered with John Barry (film composer, including the James Bond soundtracks), Serge Gainsbourg (singer, composer, artist, director) and Jacques Doillon (film director). She has three daughters: Kate Barry, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Lou Doillon.
On a flight between Paris and London in 1981, her over-stuffed purse spilled onto the floor in front of fellow passenger Jean-Louis Dumas, the CEO of luxury house, Hermes. She said it was too small for what she needed, and not practical for everyday use.
This gave Mr Dumas the idea to invent a bag that should accommodate a modern woman’s lifestyle – which, by the way, you would be taking with you everywhere as these exclusive bags are priced between range from $9000 to $150,000. He based it on an 1892 “Haut Courroies” design by Hermes and the Hermes Birkin bag launched in 1984.
Price and quality
Each bag is handmade in France and takes around 48 hours, spread out over many weeks. The prices differ depending on the size (between 25-55cm), colour (pink, red, brown, baby blue, navy blue, olive green, orange, white, black and tan) and materials used as each bag is customised.
Locks and keys are number-coded, and the craftsman’s marks and letter year of manufacture are stamped in a square underside of right belt. It does not have a logo.
The price is also dictated by the supply and circulation to stores, which is rare and highly prized – remember the Sex and the City episode (season 4, episode 11 for those of you keen to watch it in full again) where Samantha used Lucy Liu’s name to try securing her own?
Take a look at Samantha’s efforts here as well as some other celebrities who already own a Birkin, and a top tip for getting yourself up higher up the waiting list if you’re in the fortunate position to purchase one:
If you already own a Hermes Birkin bag, you’ll probably be aware that Hermes offers a “spa treatment” (at a cost) for much-loved Birkins in need of reconditioning.
Note: Birkin bags are only sold through Hermes stores, so if you are looking for one, you can only really trust that it’s genuine by going directly to their stores.
Fans of the Gilmore Girls might remember that Logan gave Rory a Birkin bag but she had no clue about the significance of the gift. Here’s a clip:
Famous folk who own Birkins include:
- Blake Lively
- Carla Bruni-Sarkozy
- Demi Moore
- Elizabeth Hurley
- Elle MacPherson
- Jade Jagger
- Jodie Foster
- Kate Moss
- Katie Holmes
- Lady Gaga
- Marc Jacobs
- Martha Stewart
- Naomi Campbell
- Nicole Richie
- Portia de Rossi
- Sandra Bullock
- Sarah Jessica Parker
- Sofia Coppola
- Victoria Beckham
See more in our “Celebrities and their Hermes Birkin bag” photo gallery:
More Hermes lusciousness in these photo galleries:
- Jacquelyn Jablonski for Hermes Spring Summer 2011
- Hermes – part 1
- Hermes – part 2
- Hermès Fall 2011 – Paris Fashion Week
- Hermes shoes
You might also like these books:
- Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World’s Most Coveted Handbag by Michael Tonello
- Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible
- How to Tell a Woman by Her Handbag by Kathryn Eisman
- Handbag Designer 101: Everything You Need to Know About Designing, Making, and Marketing Handbags by Emily Blumenthal
- Handbags: 900 Bags to Die For by Anna Johnson
- Handbags: What Every Woman Should Know by Stephanie Pedersen
- Bags: A Lexicon of Style by Valerie Steele and Laird Borrelli
Go shopping for Hermes here:
Want to know the difference between the Hermes Birkin bag and the Hermes Kelly bag? See our Luscious blog post for more. More here: