December 12, 2015
By Lauren Bradshaw
HANDBAG HISTORY: THE MOST ICONIC & INTERESTING BIRKINS OF ALL TIMESHOP HERMÈS BIRKINS
When it comes to handbags, Hermès Birkins are the ultimate status symbol — crafted of the finest materials, handmade by individual artisans over a period of two days, and highly exclusive with a long wait list that makes them ever-elusive. So it should come as no surprise that they’ve secured a place in history and pop culture, from sitting on the arms of celebrities to inspiring artists and songwriters (lest we forget the line “I keep you working that Hermès Birkin bag” from Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s hit “Bonnie & Clyde”). Here are some of the most memorable Birkins since the bag first debuted in 1984.
1. The Birkin That Started It All
Before the existence of Hermès Birkins there was, of course, Jane Birkin, the muse who inspired the signature style.
Story goes that the French model-actress was on a flight with former Hermès Chief Executive Jean-Louis Dumas when her go-to bag of choice — a basket — fell over, spilling all its contents. Lamenting that she needed a handbag with pockets that was “bigger than the Kelly but smaller than Serge [Gainsbourg]’s suitcase,” Dumas sketched a design on an airplane sick bag. The rest is handbag history.
2. The Birkin That Raised Eyebrows
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are no strangers to controversy — even when it comes to their accessories of choice. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when the rapper gave his famous wife a $40,000 Birkin two years ago for Christmas, it wasn’t any regular Birkin; it came painted with surrealist nudes by artist George Condo, the same man behind the imagery on Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album cover.
3. The Expensive Birkin That Broke Records
In June, a crocodile Hermès Birkin bag with a diamond-studded 18K white gold clasp and lock made headlines as the most expensive handbag to ever sell at auction. The final sum: a whopping $221,846, sold in a Hong Kong Christie’s auction to an anonymous bidder on the phone. “When an extremely rare bag comes up, we’ve seen prices exceed all expectations,” says Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication. Why the hefty price tag for this one in particular? Besides the crocodile and diamond detailing, bright color Birkins are incredibly rare.