When I was about 13 I saw a 'what's hot, what's not' column in a Sunday supplement, and in the HOT category was the Hermès Birkin handbag, I was obsessed. I asked for one for my upcoming birthday, the answer involved expletives... Mostly because back then the starting price was a measly three thousand quid compared to todays seven. Yes seven. And that my friends is for the 30cm which I sadly deem too small as due to the shape one can only squeeze a handful of possessions. Now if you have been a keen pins and needles reader you will know I like a tote/shopper size as I am a self confessed bag lady and like to tote around half my worldly goods on a daily basis.
The French luxury good house designed the handbag for Jane Birkin in 1984 after chief executive Jean-Luis Dumas had shared a flight with the star in 1981 and her belongings spilled out of a straw bag, and she mentioned to Dumas that she needed a black leather piece for travelling. The style was based on an 1892 design, and if one is a conossieur of all things Hermès you will observe it is a similar, larger tote version of the earlier Kelly designed for Grace Kelly.
Infamously difficult to get hold of, with waiting lists longer than the Great Wall of China the handbag has become the stuff of legend and is one of the most iconic things to come out of the last century. And yes, it has its own Wikipedia page. The handbags namesake has oft auctioned her own Birkins for charity and famously neglects to look after them like one should a bag costing the same as a small car. Exotic skin pieces command prices up to a hundred grand, an are so rare there are Fabergé eggs easier to get your little fingers on.
For me the reasoning in my thirteen year strong passion for owning my very own Birkin lies in a number of factors, it is that the clueless folk with no penchant for fashion can even tell you what one is and who designs them... It is that they are so expensive, so aloof and mysterious that they are almost as rare as saffron, that they are a sign of wealth, fortune and those 'in the know' carried by women so fabulous they have a 'contact' an 'in' into the world of French hard-to-acquire luxury so deep seated in secrets and fashion folklore that only a chosen few are given the chance to purchase... Or the spending power. On top of that, it is the pristine orange box with the impel black logo of the hose stamped atop, and the heavy and beautiful carrier bag that you take your new purchase home in. For me, more than anything it is the design, the simplicity and minimal shape of the Birkin that sold it to me. It is what can simply be referred to as a 'classic.' The one item in your wardrobe that will always work hard, that will never date and can make even the most casual of outfits look polished, chic and well put together. It is the fact that the leather is thick and heavy, and reeks of high quality that will last you an unquestionable lifetime. I have always been a lover of totes, and the Birkin is just that. The ultimate tote. The Princess of totes if you will (not a Queen, the Birkin my dears will always be the younger more fabulous offspring) the one bag that will always outshine the others. Lastly because I cannot decide which colour I prefer, just that I know one day I will own at least one, and I will covet her and love her like one of my own. Sad I know, but I am fashion pervert you see, and the Birkin the ultimate in FASHWAN PORN!
There has been much speculation, especially since the publishing of a certain 'How to Buy' guide, that acquiring a Birkin is nowhere near as difficult as the house will have you believe. I for one am not naive and know that it most probably takes a lot of cash splashing and a trusting saleswoman to sell you a piece of fashion mystery, so steeped in intrigue I could probably solve the mystery of the pyramids before I devise a way of getting one if I ever acquire the pennies to do so. This secrecy, and secret code whispering is one of the biggest draws for me, and makes me want to own more than any other reasons. I just love a challenge, and the idea of having to beg, borrow, but or steal my way into getting something I adore makes me want it even more. Plus most things I am coveting recently happen to live in an orange box, and I for one want to live in a little orange box with them.
One day a Birkin will be mine.