Handbag Hall of Fame

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The Hermès Birkin Bag

Birkin BagHistory of the bag

Named after British film star Jane Birkin, Hermès introduced the Birkin in 1984. As a symbol of status and power, it has few, if any, betters.

About the bag

Birkin Bags start at about $6,000; the most expensive version, made of crocodile with solid gold (or platinum) closures studded with diamonds, tops $85,000. The Birkin Martha Stewart carried into federal court to stand trial on conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and securities fraud charges was probably in the middle-brow neighborhood of $12,000.

The waiting list to purchase a Birkin is about two years long.


Each Birkin is handmade and finished with gold-plated hardware by artisans. Many are fashioned from crocodile leather. Since wild crocodiles are protected, Australian farmers have made a booming business of breeding crocodiles to meet the demand for the luxurious leather created by the success of companies such as Hermès. Croc leather bags first achieved fame with the release of the film Le Divorce, which featured a red Hermes crocodile "Kelly bag," named after actress Grace Kelly.
Quality craftsmanship

Devotees say

"It is the Rolls-Royce of handbags," commented Harper's Bazaar editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey, who owns "only" two, including Audrey Hepburn's brown crocodile Kelly. Bailey outbid Matt Lauer for the bag at auction, for a reported $25,000. "There's something so deliciously gorgeous about them. You can't really value the worth of a Kelly bag in monetary terms."

In recent years, the Birkin has featured in the popular television series Sex and the City and Will & Grace, and in a remake of Le Divorce starring Kate Hudson.

Read more

Feature article on the Birkin's resurgence in popularity

The Bags

Birkin Kelly Plume Classic Kelly Bag sold in 2005 auction

See also:

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