Luxury handbags often follow current fashion trends, but occasionally, a truly iconic design becomes such a favourite that it holds its popularity for decades. The designer handbags that fall into this category can even become valuable objects that often appreciate more than 80% of their comparative value regardless of age. Iconic designer handbags are timeless pieces that increase personal fashion credibility, announcing that their owner is successful and has incredibly good taste. Here are a few of the iconic designs that have made such an enduring impression.
Speedy – Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton’s instantly recognisable checked brown canvas makes the Speedy one of the best iconic handbags anyone has ever produced. It was originally designed in 1930 as a large, versatile piece of luggage known as the Keepall. But fresh from her success in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961, the thirty-two-year-old Audrey Hepburn commissioned Louis Vuitton to create a miniaturised version. The resulting Speedy with its curved, zipped top and small leather handles, is still one of the company’s most popular styles.
Kelly – Hermès
The simple symmetry of the trapezium design with its single carrying handle has been a favourite in the fashion world for more than seventy years. It was originally named the Sac à Dépêches when it was created in 1923 for the wife of Hermès’ owner. It eventually became an international handbag icon when the glamorous American actress, Grace Kelly, used one in the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film, To Catch a Thief. She loved the handbag so much that it became a mainstay of her wardrobe following her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco. The design was named in honour of Princess Grace in 1977 and remains the most popular of the company’s iconic handbags. In the 1980s, the style inspired the Birkin handbag which was designed for the British actress, Jane Birkin.
The 2.55 – Chanel
The origins of Chanel’s classic quilted handbag began in 1923 when it became the first handbag to feature a shoulder strap. Ever keen to emancipate women from the constraints of established haute couture, Coco Chanel designed the bag primarily to free herself from having to always carry a bag in her hands. Its quilted exterior, the burgundy interior and the secure inner compartment with a zip, were all favourite features of Chanel herself. The current form with its distinctive golden chain strap was introduced in February 1955 as part of Chanel’s rejuvenated fashion collection.
Lady Dior – Dior
This iconic handbag was commissioned in 1995 by the First Lady of France, Bernadette Chirac, as a gift for Princess Diana during a visit to an art exhibition in Paris. At the time, the rigid, square handbag was an unreleased model with the name of Chouchou. It featured elaborate diamond quilting, small, stiff looped handles and Dior’s famous golden letters as charms. Princess Diana adored the bag, taking it with her wherever she travelled for the rest of her life. Dior named it Lady Dior in honour of the Princess’ former title of Lady Diana Spencer. Although Diana’s version was made of soft black lambskin, several versions have been produced in a variety of materials including satin and velvet. The bag is still one of Dior’s bestsellers and is one of the most iconic designer handbags available today.