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It's second hand and has cat bite marks on the handle, but a Hermes Birkin handbag owned by the actress who gave the ultimate accessory its name is set to sell for more than £20,000.
English actress and singer Jane Birkin helped design the bag in 1983, sketching it out on an airplane sick bag when she got chatting to Hermes boss Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight.
She told him she wanted a bag with pockets and he came up with a classic design in soft black leather.
The bag became a style status symbol whose fans now include Cardi B, Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian and Melania Trump.
(Image: Daily Mirror)
Jane Birkin’s own handbag, signed by the 74-year-old star, who lives in France, will be auctioned with her accompanying letter by Bonhams later this month.
Meg Randell, head of Bonhams designer handbags and fashion department, said: “Jane Birkin is synonymous with the ultimate in French cool and chic style, and the Hermes Birkin is the ultimate luxury accessory – so to be able to offer Birkin’s Birkin is incredibly exciting. Jane was known for really using her bags and customising them to make her namesake accessory her own.
“This bag shows wonderful signs of use by Birkin, such as the red cord tied around one of the handles, and bite marks from Birkin’s cat on the handle.”
The singer is selling her bag for £20k
Her handbag is going up for auction
Birkin spoke in 2012 about the airborne encounter which led to the creation of the bag. She said: “I’m not quite sure what type of bag I had with me – my husband, Jacques Doillon, had reversed his car over my basket, crushed it on purpose, not two days before.
“Little did he know that on this airplane journey, when everything fell out of whatever bag I had, the man next to me said: ‘You should have one with pockets’. I said, ‘The day Hermès make one with pockets, I will have that’, and he said, ‘But I am Hermès and I will put pockets in for you’.”
She and Dumas, chairman of Hermes, began designing the bag.
Hermes chief Jean-Louis Dumas
(Image: South China Morning Post via Getty Images)
Kim K is a fan of their bags
(Image: GC Images)
She said: “I think I drew it on the sickbag – or the not-be-sickbag. And he said, ‘I’ll make it for you’.”
Dumas proposed that he give Birkin the bag in exchange for her lending her name to the design.
She said: “I was very flattered. Now, when I go to America to sing, they say, ‘Birkin – like the bag?’ I say, ‘Yes, indeed. And the bag will now sing’.” There is now a six-year waiting list for a Hermes Birkin, each bag hand-made.
The bags can be designed to order with different hides, colours, and hardware, including diamond encrusting.
Lady Gaga spotted with a Hermes bag
Victoria Beckham pictured with her expensive accessory
(Image: GC Images)
In 2017, a white Himalaya niloticus crocodile Birkin with 18-carat white gold and hardware bearing 245 diamonds was sold at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong for £277,000, creating a new record for the most expensive handbag in the world.
Melania Trump was pictured with a Hermes Birkin as she left the White House for the last time this year.
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In the Noughties, Victoria Beckham was rarely seen without a Birkin on her arm, pictured with one in virtually every style and colour. Her collection is said to be worth £1.5million.
Kim Kardashian isn’t the only member of her family to be a Birkin fan.
Her mum Kris Jenner and sisters Khloe Kardashian and Kendall and Kylie Jenner have all proudly shown off their collections of the Hermes Birkin bags on social media.