immortalized in fashion

Iconic Women And Their Emblematic Handbags

Ana B. Remos

Since 1956, when Hermès baptized one of his handbags “Kelly” as a tribute to Grace Kelly, a select number of women have had the privilege of being immortalized in fashion with a handbag named after them.

Since 1956, when Hermès baptized one of his handbags “Kelly” as a tribute to Grace Kelly, a select number of women have had the privilege of being immortalized in fashion with a handbag named after them.

Their Serene Highnesses Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III of Monaco, 1956.

The “Kelly” from Hermès, can cost upwards of $8,000, depending on the model. The story behind the emblematic bag has its origin in 1956 when Princess Grace used it to hide her pregnancy from the paparazzi. One of those photographs made the cover of Life magazine and was quickly distributed around the world. After that, this essential purse was forever associated with the Princess of Monaco. But this is not the only time Hermès has named an item after a celebrity. In 1981 Hermès CEO, Jean Louis Dumas was sitting on a plane next to actress Jane Birkin, when she accidentally dropped her straw bag on the aisle. Monsieur Dumas graciously offered to create a more practical handbag just for her. The “Birkin” retails today at a starting price of $10,000, but it can cost much more, depending on the type of materials used in its manufacture. The list of acolytes of the “Birkin” bag is both exclusive and extensive if that is possible. The elusive bags are delivered to Hermès boutique on unpredictable schedules and in limited quantities. Paris Hilton has one in pink, of course, and Victoria Beckham owns a collection of “Birkins” valued at two million dollars.

Princess Diana was also the object of an exclusive handbag. In 1995, Bernadette Chirac, at the time First Lady of France, asked the house of Dior to create an exceptional gift for the princess, who was about to arrive in France for a State visit. Diana loved her present so much that she commissioned a few more. One year later, when Dior put the bag on the market, she gave the approval for it to carry her name and tittle, and the “Lady Dior” was born.

Lady Dior handbag.

The friendship between Louis Vuitton’s artistic director Marc Jacobs and film director Sofia Coppola is well known. Jacobs has said that Sofia is not only his muse, but also the utopic woman of his dreams. It is not surprising, then, that on top of naming one of his handbags “SC”, he turned to her as a collaborator for an accessory collection for Louis Vuitton. Coppola has also appeared in several ad campaigns from the French label.

During the seventies, when Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was working as an editor for Doubleday, she was photographed on several occasions leaving her office with a Gucci bag. Gucci christened the piece after the former First Lady, and four decades later, the company still produces the item.

Bulgari, on the other hand, turned to actress Isabella Rossellini, daughter of Angelo Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman, to create one of its leather jewels. The collaboration with Rossellini was an added value at the time when the LVMH Empire acquired Bulgari in 2011. Isabella had already produced a best seller for the firm and traveled to Florence to work directly with Cristina Cortesi, Bulgari’s creative director of accessories. The result was the “Rossellini” bag, a timeless piece of classic lines that reveals the influence Ingrid Bergman had on her daughter Isabella.

Isabella Rossellini with Rossellini bag by Bulgari.

Younger celebrities are also joining this exclusive list. Mulberry recently selected singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey as the muse for one of its bags. Del Rey is not necessarily a household name, but for Emma Hill, creative director of Mulberry, she has the poise and demeanor of the glamorous movie stars of Hollywood’s golden age.

The muses who have lent their moniker to these luxurious accessories are all examples of enduring, classic elegance, and their influence in fashion history is unquestionable.


© | 2019