Hermès’ Birkin bag is currently the most coveted bag ever! Each one is handcrafted in France by only one expert artisan, using the finest leathers and the noblest coating metals. They are definitely not easy to buy due to their low production and exclusivity, but the secondary market is a very good option. Discover now the story behind this vintage icon.
KEEP READING ABOUT HERMÈS: Hermès Kelly: Discover the Story Behind This Vintage Icon
Opposing to the Kelly bag’s history, the Birkin bag didn’t go through an evolution process till being photographed on the arms of a princess. In fact, its origin was quite simpler.
The year was 1981. Hermès’ chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas, was sitting next to Jane Birkin on a short Paris to London flight. According to the brand’s folklore, Birkin attempted to place her bag in the overhead compartment of her first-class seat but all its content fell on the floor. The British songstress complained about not being able to find a leather weekend bag to fit her style. She barely recognised who was right next to her.
In 2012, Jane Birkin spoke about that day to The Daily Telegraph: “I remember it well. I’d been upgraded by Air France on a flight to London and was sitting next to a man. I’m not quite sure what type of bag I had with me – my husband, Jacques Doillon, had reversed his car over my basket, crushed it on purpose, not two days before. Little did he know that on this airplane journey, when everything fell out of whatever bag I had, the man next to me said: ‘You should have one with pockets’. I said: ‘The day Hermès make one with pockets I will have that’, and he said: ‘But I am Hermès and I will put pockets in for you’.”
And so, using a barf bag, Dumas and Birkin started designing some ideas. As Janes Birkin continues to explain to the British newspaper, “I said, ‘Why don’t you make a handbag that is bigger than the Kelly but smaller than Serge’s suitcase?’. And he said, ‘Well, what would it be like?’ And I think I drew it on the sickbag – or the not-be-sick bag. And he said, ‘I’ll make it for you’.”
In 1984 the bag was brought to life and when Jane Birkin came by the atelier to witness the final result, Jean-Louis Dumas proposed to offer Birkin the bag in exchange for her allowance to name the bag after her. “I was very flattered! They’ve turned it to the success we know today. So now, when I go to America to sing, they say, ‘Birkin – like the bag?’ I say, ‘Yes, indeed: and the bag will now sing’.”
Unfortunately, despite this tremendous story and the bag’s success, it took it several years to achieve the stardom. As spotted in Vogue magazine, luxury bag market was completely dominated by Chanel in the ’80s. Until the mid-to-late ’90s, the Hermès Birkin was only known by few people. In fact, the only exposure that the bag got in Vogue until that time was in an Hermès advertisement dated of 1989.
This vintage icon became forever known as the ultimate status symbol when it was placed in an episode of Sex and the City. In the episode, Samantha Jones uses Lucy Liu’s name in order to skip the “five-year” waiting list for the bag. After that appearance, the Birkin’s current waiting list tripled in length, which is understandable due to the cultural impact of the show. In 2005, the already iconic bag became even more famous when Gilmore Girls featured a storyline involving Rory Gilmore’s boyfriend Logan bequeathing her with the precious handbag, but barely he knew Rory had no idea what kind of bag that was.
Content sources: www.fashionista.com and www.telegraph.co.uk | Photography sources: www.fashionismyonlydrug.blogspot.pt; www.fobsession.com; www.vintage-hermes.com; www.epykomene.com; www.thelazygeniuscollective.com; www.purseblog.com and www.gioia.it
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