The Stories Behind The World’s Most Iconic Handbags

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The Hermès Kelly

Available in eight sizes from a petite 15cm to a very roomy 50cm, the Hermès Kelly as we know it — redesigned many times since its conception as a saddle bag in 1892 — came into being in the 1930s as a spacious travel holdall called the Sac à Dépêches. Grace Kelly fell in love with what is now known as the Hermès Kelly during filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief, but wasn’t until the wasn’t until she was Princess of Monaco — and famously used the bag to shield her pregnancy from the paparazzi in 1956 — that the bag became famous worldwide. Officially named the Kelly bag in 1977, the bag is formed of thirty-six leather pieces, six-hundred-and-eighty hand stitches, sixteen small studs and takes over 40 hours to each be made by hand. Much like its Birkin cousin, the Hermès Kelly regularly re-sells for far more than its retail price and is a timeless, iconic design that is coveted worldwide.

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The Chanel Classic Flap

Upon debuting the 2.55’s chain shoulder strap in 1955, women who had previously been constrained to one hand — the other carrying a clutch bag or stiff tote in the crook of the arm — were given an unprecedented new freedom of movement. With the invention of the 2.55, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel forever changed the fashion landscape, and the soft design in quilted jersey and calf leather was — and still is — a best-selling classic. When Karl Lagerfeld took over as creative director of Chanel in 1983, he introduced the addition of a turning ‘CC’ clasp to the bag, thus creating the Chanel Timeless. And timeless it is indeed; recent figures from Vestiaire Collective shows it’s the site’s continuously №1 selling bag for the last decade and it regularly re-sells second hand for more than its retail price

The Louis Vuitton Speedy

The Speedy was the first handbag produced by Louis Vuitton and made as a smaller interpretation of the brand’s immensely popular Keepall bag, has remained identical in design since its launch in 1930. Originally made 30cm wide, a 25cm version was created by special request for Audrey Hepburn — a huge fan of the iconic design and famously pictured carrying two at a time — the bag, which now also comes in 35cm and 40cm sizes, has been reworked in numerous colourways and finishes. The Damier Ebene and the Damier Azure checkerboard print versions are now almost as popular as the original versions in the instantly-recognisable Louis Vuitton monogram logo.

The Mulberry Bayswater

At 45 years old, Mulberry bags are relative newcomers compared to established leather brands Hermès and Louis Vuitton, but it hasn’t stopped the brand from creating some of the world’s most recognisable handbags. Made by hand in the brand’s Somerset workshop, the family-run company launched the classic Bayswater bag with it’s signature postman’s lock in 2002. With it’s mid-range price point, exquisite craftsmanship and luxury British aesthetic, the bag’s popularity elevated Mulberry from a home-grown business to a global phenomenon. Available in an array of numerous colourways and exotic leathers, the classic oak grain leather Bayswater in neutral, subtle tones remains an iconic style staple

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