Handbags are more than just a black hole for your car keys. From the elegant Hermès Birkin to the insouciant Fendi Baguette, this functional accessory serves as a footnote in fashion history, seducing movie stars and royalty alike to amass collections worth more than the GDP of a small country. Before you dismiss this as gross exaggeration, consider that Christie’s recently auctioned off a Birkin for Rs 2.4 crore. That’s roughly the cost of a penthouse in Mumbai.
In case you’re building your own superstar collection, these are the icons you should know on a first name basis.
Born in 1955, the Chanel 2.55 flap bag justifies its price tag with this handy bit of trivia the value of the ‘It’ bag has increased by 70 percent in the last six years alone. Most modern reissues of the bag don’t even see the inside of a store, they’re sold out months in advance, being shipped off to loyal clients from Morocco to Macau. The original version, created by Coco Chanel, was a practical riff on the clutch style favored by Parisian women. Coco explained why she added the straps, saying she “got fed up with holding my purses in my hands and losing them, so I added a strap and carried them over my shoulder.”
The bag that made its debut under the name ‘Chouchou’, was ultimately christened Lady Dior in honor of its number one fan, Princess Diana. Originally crafted in 1994, the bag features gold-plated charms that spell the name Dior, hanging off the handle. Like the Chanel 2.55, the bag’s most notable feature is its hand-stitched quilted leather.
Lous Vuitton Neverfull
When women talk about “carrying my whole world in my bag”, they’re referencing the Louis Vuitton Neverfull, an icon that turns a tall claim into reality. The roomy tote with soft sides features adjustable straps on the side that can be cinched to create a structured city bag. The most iconic version of the bag features the Damier print, designed by Monsieur Louis Vuitton’s son to confound counterfeiters.
It’s the Beyonce of bags. Designed by Jean-Louis Dumas for actress Jane Birkin — the actress spent the better part of a flight complaining to the designer that she couldn’t find a bag she liked — the bag is now synonymous with luxury and elegance. Each bag takes a specially trained craftsman about 18 hours to make, and is eligible for repair for life.
From the Spanish couture house of Balenciaga, comes a handbag that’s dripping with street cred. The tough girl Motorcycle bag was designed to mimic (you guessed it!) a motorcycle jacket with its zip detailing and studs. Designed by then creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, the bag was originally rejected for its design. It’s only after Ghesquière shipped out samples to his model friends, who loved it, that the bag was approved for sale. Also unique: the absence of any obvious logo.
Salvatore Ferragamo Sofia
Named for another evergreen sex symbol, Sophia Loren, the Salvatore Ferragamo Sofia’s timeless design makes it a worthy investment. The satchel with a front clasp fixture and curved top handle was introduced in 2009, and has since become a staple in celebrity wardrobes.