10 most iconic luxury handbags of all time
Beyond the Birkin
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.
Birkin to Baguette: the most iconic handbags in history
Born in 1955, the Chanel 2.55 flap bag justifies its Rs 4 lakh price tag with this handy bit of trivia: according to research conducted by vintage authority Baghunter, 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 favoured 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."
Celebrity loyalists: Sonam Kapoor, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba
The bag that made its debut under the name 'Chouchou', was ultimately christened Lady Dior in honour 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.
Celebrity loyalists: Marion Cotillard, Kangana Ranaut, Anne Hathaway
In terms of creative license, the brand really played it safe when it came to naming Gucci's bestseller. Legend has it that the iconic bamboo handle was necessitated to cope with a shortage of materials during WWII, so Gucci's expert craftsmen imported bamboo from Japan and found a way to treat it to make it malleable and resistant to damage. An updated version of the bag was released in 2010, called the New Bamboo, an instant inductee into the Handbag Hall of Fame.
Celebrity loyalists: Sonam Kapoor, Jennifer Lopez, Gal Gadot
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.
Celebrity loyalists: Katie Holmes, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Jessica Parker
According to a news report, Selfridges in London sells 225 pieces of the Selma tote every week. That's not hard to believe when you lay eyes on the near-perfectly designed tote, dangling off the crook of many a celebrity arm. In designing the Selma, Michael Kors considered the bag's practical function, saying, "I wouldn’t want a woman to say, ‘I can’t go to the supermarket with this bag’."
Celebrity loyalists: Selena Gomez, Alessandra Ambrosio
If there was one bag that Carrie Bradshaw was more loyal to than any of her boyfriends, it was the cutesy Fendi Baguette. The bag debuted in 1997 and quickly became the first of the era's 'It' bags. Since then, over 1,000 versions of the bag have been released, boosting Silvia Fendi's rep from designer to commercial genius.
In 2005, Stefano Pilati introduced a soft bowling bag shape with a distinct Y crafted onto the sides. Spacious and stylish, the YSL Muse was an instant hit. Three years later, the brand switched out the bag for the Muse 2, an updated satchel version that didn't miss a beat in popularity.
Celebrity loyalists: Kareena Kapoor, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Alba
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.
Celebrity loyalists: Kim Kardashian, Shilpa Shetty, Sofia Vergara
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.
Celebrity loyalists: Jennifer Aniston, Sonam Kapoor, Kirsten Dunst