In 2004, a Hermès Birkin bag with a diamond-encrusted clasp and lock sold at auction for $64,800! With a waiting list years long and regular prices of $6,000, Birkin are difficult to get,
even for the rich and famous. Vintage Birkin bags are a hot ticket among wealthy collectors, who pass them down as family heirlooms.
The Birkin Bag
The Birkin bag was supposedly named after Jane Birkin the infamous actress and singer, when in 1984 Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas was seated next to her on a flight from Paris to London. She had just placed her straw bag in the overhead compartment of her seat, but the contents fell to the ground, leaving her to scramble to replace the contents. Birkin explained to Dumas that it had been difficult to find the perfect leather weekend bag; he created a black supple leather bag for her, based on an 1892 design.
The Hermès’ Birkin bag has become the perfect and practical weekend bag made famous by many of today’s most famous women often seen sweeping through VIP lounges and airport concourses across the Globe. The inside of the bag is lined with goat skin matching the outside colour of the bag. The outside of the bag can be made with a variety of leathers including ostrich and crocodile and in a wide range of colours; select clients are able to place bespoke orders requesting specific colours and leathers. The manufacture of just one of these iconic handbags takes several weeks to produce and there is a long waiting list which can take years to reach the top! However, despite Hermès‘notoriously careful and selective production; it is rumoured that Victoria Beckham has a collection of over 100 Hermès bags, including many Birkins in all colours and sizes. Her most famous Birkin bag is the Himalayan Birkin that comes in crocodile skin, goat skin lining with the signature Hermès lock paved in 3 carats worth of diamonds. To date there have only been three Himalayan Birkin bags ever been produced.
Hermès named its’ Kelly bag after the beautiful yet tragic actress and wife of Prince Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, who made it her favourite in the 1950’s when she supposedly used her crocodile Hermès bag to conceal her unannounced pregnancy from the press. The picture was circulated around the world and another iconic bag was named.
The Kelly bag is similar in style and is made with the same precision as its sister Birkin bag, but it a more structured less sporty and casual handbag making it the perfect business bag or larger evening bag: formal, structured, elegant and ultimately classic. Like the Birkin Bag the Kelly takes weeks to produce one bag and is made by one single Hermès artisan from start to finish; this adds to the exclusivity of the bag and makes it another “must have for style icons fashionistas everywhere. The Kelly bag was also an absolute favourite of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and today can often be seen on the arm of Victoria Beckham.