When it comes to the ultimate classic handbags, there are only a few names that women need to be remember: the Chanel 2.55, the Fendi Baguette, and the Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags. These iconic bags have already shown their timeless qualities to women around the globe. Although they are each a hefty investment, they are bags that will never go out of style.
Chanel’s 2.55 Handbag
The year was 1955 and Coco Chanel decided it was time to shake up the world of purses once and for all. Tired of trying to eat and drink at parties while holding on to her purse, Chanel did what had never been done before …. she freed the hands of socialites around the world with the creation of her 2.55 bag with its leather threaded chain strap. For the first time, a purse had a shoulder strap and with it, in an instant, women were able to carry their purses and keep their hands free for more exciting things. As earth shattering as this may have been at the time, the small quilted purse had one more twist — a secret, or more precisely, a secret pocket well hidden within the design of the purse. In fact, legend has it that Chanel hid love letters from her beau in that discreet little pocket on the inside of the 2.55′s front flap. Necessity truly is the mother of invention!
Fendi Baguette Bag
Although a relative newcomer to the world of classic purses, the Fendi Baguette — so named because the shape of the clutch resembles a French baguette — burst on the scene in 1997. It became the first “It” bag when Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character on Sex and the City, declared, “I’m homeless. I’ll be a bag lady … a Fendi bag lady! But a bag lady!” The versatile bag was designed as both a shoulder bag and a clutch — one purse that can go from lunch with friends to a night on the town.
Hermès Birkin and Kelly
Although Hermès handbags start around $7,000 and go up in excess of $50,000, there is often a waitlist. The handcrafted bags are created with the intent that they will outlast their owners. It takes 30-40 hours to make a simple bag and more than 50 hours for a more complex bag or a larger piece of luggage. As if that was not enough to warrant a high price tag, if the completed bags are not perfect in every way — the leather, the stitching, the edging, etc. – they will never be sold to the public. To ensure the highest quality in workmanship, it takes about 10 years of on-the-job training before an artisan develops the skills necessary to obtain the Hermes’ standard. Both the Birkin and Kelly bags have number-coded locks and keys and can be identified by their metal-tipped clasp, which can be closed with a tiny padlock (and the clasp’s hidden key often dangles from the handle in a leather sheath of its own).
The idea for the Hermès Birkin bag was born during a 1981 airplane flight when British-born actress-singer Jane Birkin’s overstuffed purse spilled in the vicinity of Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermès. She commented to Hermès how difficult it was to find a purse that would hold all of her necessary things. Three years later, the Birkin bag was introduced. The weekend bag can be made in a variety of leathers and is lined in goat skin to match the leather exterior. It is more bohemian and casual in structure than the Hermès Kelly bag and is one of the most coveted bags to own. Five Birkins are produced a week at the Hermès Atelier in Paris
Victoria Beckham has her own Hermès Birkin collection. In 2009 it was reported that she owned 100 of the bags with an estimated value of 2.3 million dollars. (Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1184169/Bag-lady-Victoria-Beckhams-100-strong-Birkin-bag-collection-thats-worth-1-5m.html#ixzz1wkcgIxe4)
The Hermès family business started in 1837 by making harnesses and bridles for the carriage trade. In the 1880′s the company expanded by adding saddlery and retail sales. Hermès leather handbags were introduced in 1922 when the wife of Émile-Maurice Hermès could not find a purse to her liking. This new world of handbags for the company eventually led to the introduction in 1935 of the leather Sac à dépêches. In 1956, a photograph of Grace Kelly, the Princess of Monaco, was used on the cover of Life Magazine. She was carrying the Sac à dépêches bag in such a way as to cover up her pregnancy. Immediately, the public began their love affair with the “Kelly” bag, as they called it. (The company later officially renamed the Sac à dépêches bag, the “Kelly” bag.) Interestingly, the “Kelly” bag was a downsized version of the large saddle carrier that the French fashion house made in their early years as a saddlemaker. The “Kelly” is a more formal bag than the Birkin and is appropriate for a more refined look. It takes one artisan approximately 18 hours to make the bag.