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Birkin, Lady Dior, Kelly, Jackie and Alexa Handbags, Named After The Rich and Famous

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Naming a handbag after someone famous has been something fashion houses both designer and high street have been doing for many years. It's a brilliant marketing trick that, if successful, will see sales go through the roof. It has always been normal practice for the top fashion brands to gift celebrities clothes, handbags, shoes and even jewellery in the hope that they will be seen and photographed. This is because they know that their preferred target audience aspire to emulate and relate to their favourite celebrities. 

I'm being a bit cynical I know and actually it's what makes our world go round and also encourages greater creativity to try and inspire the next big fashion trend. The ultimate goal is to create an iconic piece that is specifically worn, carried or ideally created for a particular A list celebrity or even better royalty.

The Birkin
I think most people are familiar with this iconic bag which was named after the actress Jane Birkin. Created by Hermès, it is undoubtedly the most famous bag of all which was actually specially designed for Ms Birkin. She was the perfect all round celebrity, actress, singer songwriter and model and not short of admirers. The story goes that in 1983 she was on a flight from Paris to London and sat next to her was the then creative director at Hermès, Jean-Louis Dumas. After striking up a conversation Jane complains that she can never find a handbag that will comfortably accommodate her daughters milk bottles as well as her own essentials. Jean-Louis is duly inspired and promises to create a bag that will suit all her needs and in the next few days creates and produces the legendary Birkin bag that we are familiar with today. 

Obviously Jane was very flattered and used her new bag for a while but eventually complains that it is not only heavy but also, and anyone who has used one of these bags will know, really difficult to undo and do up the locking straps. Ironically this bag is probably even more sought after now than it has ever been and a good Birkin can exchange hands at astonishing prices despite its flawed design. 

In 2015 Jane requested that Hermès stop using her name in protest to the cruel way exotic leathers are acquired but following reassurances by the design house the Birkin name is still linked to the bag.

Photo: Marquis de Lannes

Lady Dior
Diana Princess of Wales was undoubtedly the most famous and most photographed person in the modern era so unsurprisingly her style, which was one of elegance, was copied by millions worldwide. Diana always had a soft spot for an elegant handbag and when she was given a Dior handbag by France's first lady, Bernadette Chirac whilst on an official visit to Paris in 1995. She loved it and instantly become her favourite. 

This bag was in fact designed by Christian Dior the year before and was very much in the Dior style. It was certainly very distinctive with it's geometric padded sides and D.I.O.R. charms. This intricate bag which is actually made with 130 separate pieces of the finest leather, initially had no name. 

Diana quickly ordered many versions of this handbag and was seen on many occasions carrying this beautiful bag which was quickly named the Lady Dior with her blessing. Even now, this is an extremely sought after bag. 

The first time a handbag was linked to royalty was back in the 1950's with the American film star Grace Kelly. One of the greatest actresses of her time with films under her belt such as High Noon, Mogambo and High Society, she was chosen by Alfred Hitchcock to star in Dial M for Murder with Ray Milland and then Rear Window with James Stewart. In 1955 she was first choice to star in the film classic To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant in which some of the costume accessories happen to have been supplied by the French fashion house Hermès. However, there was one key piece that she just adored and that was, what would become, this iconic handbag. It simply became her handbag of choice.

This was to be her last film because at the age of 26 she retired and married Prince Rainier III and became as everyone knows, Princess Grace of Monaco. However, there was one moment that really confirmed the handbags place in fashion history and that was when the Princess was trying the shield the fact that she was pregnant from the paparazzi by covering her bump with her handbag. Of course this was a fairy tale story and the pictures went worldwide and the bag was quickly named the Kelly. 

Named after the America's first lady, Jackie Kennedy. She was always keen on the practical so preferred a hobo style bag which are roomy and comfortable to carry. Her bag of choice was the Gucci Constance bag which was the classic crescent shape for a hobo and the strap allowed it to be carried either in the hand or over the shoulder. Jackie was a real fashion icon so whatever she did the rest followed and this bag quickly become one of the most popular bags of its time. Inevitably it soon became known as the Jackie.

Gucci have reviived the Jackie a number of times in it's history and is available in many guises but the shape remains constant. The classic is a mix of cloth and leather but can also be all leather even exotic leather.

Not to be outdone, the great British lifestyle brand Mulberry has created its own handbag linked to the celebrity Alexa Chung. Fashion designer, TV presenter, model and all round ‘it’ girl, Alexa was perfect to be the ambassador for this very English brand. The bag that was created for her was a satchel style shoulder bag with a flap over and two straps and of course included the classic oval Mulberry lock. 

This marriage of bag and ‘it’ girl may have been a little contrived but it has helped Mulberry turn themselves around.

All of these bags are very beautiful but sadly out of most peoples price range. Of course you can get a luxury handmade bag for much less made with quality Italian leather.

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