As handbags have gained prominence in popular culture, designers have sought out to create signature bags for the everyday woman. Luxury brands looked to the Old Hollywood actresses and celebrities to develop a recognizable namesake accessory that manifests both the style of the brand and its muse. The iconic women and the bags dedicated to them create an intimate dialogue in fashion of what women want, and what the designer sees. From the Birkins to Speedys and everything in between, CR highlights the most coveted bags throughout history and the women who inspired them.
In 1930, French heritage brand Louis Vuitton introduced the “keep-all” bag, designed as duffle luggage for the traveling elite. After the Keepall became a huge success for Louis Vuitton, the brand introduced a similar interpretation of bag that was called the Speedy. While the original bag was only offered at 30 cm wide, actress Audrey Hepburn requested that the company invent a smaller version so she could carry the bag on a daily basis. Vuitton listened, and created the timeless Speedy 25.
After departing Gucci, Tom Ford started his own eponymous label in 2006. His friendship with Carine carried over from their creative work at Gucci, turning into one of fashion’s favorite duos. Ford created various items in honor of her, including the Carine Boys & Girls lipstick and a sexy, ultra-sleek bag called the Carine.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s designs constantly challenged the established ideals of women’s clothing during the early 20th century. Chanel was tired with the handbags of her era, saying that delicate hand-held bags simply weren’t adaptable with a women’s lifestyles. She sought to create the first fashion shoulder bag, debuting the iconic 2.55 bag in 1929 with the finalized version launching in 1955. The bag was named 2.55, after the date it was bore into fashion: February, 1955. The burgundy color lining the bag was inspired by the uniforms young Chanel wore at the Aubazine Convent, where she lived after losing her parents. he chain detail strap, seen on several of Chanel designs, was additionally borrowed from the keychains used by caretakers at the convent where Chanel grew up.
The original prototype for the Kelly bag was created in 1892, named Haut à courroies for its high handles. The Haut à courroies inspired future shapes in the brand’s handbag collection, including the Birkin bag and Kelly bag. Grace Kelly received the trapezoid-shaped bag to wear in the film To Catch a Thief by Alfred Hitchcock. Kelly instantly fell in love with the bag and months later in 1956, she was seen wearing it while shielding her baby bump from the paparazzi. The picture went viral as Kelly was seen as incredibly glamorous and known as a fashion icon. The bag became known from that moment forward as the Kelly bag and was officially renamed in 1977.
As one of the most stylish First Ladies to ever reside in the White House, Jackie Kennedy’s classically elegant style made her the darling of America. Gucci was one of the first fashion houses (of many) which paid tribute to Jackie O’s signature looks. The hobo-style Constance bag was originally introduced to the Italian house in 1950. As the story goes, Kennedy’s favoring of hobo silhouettes caused her obsession with the bag, resulting in her constantly being photographed with it. The house renamed it the Jackie bag in 1961, when Kennedy began in office.
As the holy grail of handbags, the Birkin bag by Hermès is deemed the pinnacle of craft and luxury, with a hefty waitlist and price tag to match. According to fashion lore, the Birkin bag was born on a flight from Paris to London in 1983, when French actress Jane Birkin spilled the contents of her straw bag onto Jean-Louis Dumas, Hermès CEO, who was seated next to her. She explained to Dumas how difficult it was to find a great top-handled weekender tote for all her jet-setting purposes. Dumas created the Birkin, naming it for the actress, a year later and thus, an iconic bag was born.
Canadian supermodel Jessica Stam rose to prominence in the early 2000s, earning herself a spot on the list of the 15 Top Earning Models in 2015. The model supposedly didn’t have a bag that would fit her modeling portfolio and close friend and American designer Marc Jacobs made her one in her honor.
As the sweetheart of the royal family, Princess Diana was regarded as a global fashion icon before her tragic death in 1997. She held close relationships with the fashion community, often seen sporting the season’s newest styles and brushing shoulders with all the biggest designers, from John Galliano to Gianni Versace. The original Lady Dior bag came out in 1994 under the creative direction of Gianfranco Ferré, who called it the Chouchou (“favorite”) bag. The bag was first presented to the Princess in 1995 by Bernadette Chirac, then-First lady of France, as a token of French culture. After that moment, it’s said that she ordered the bag in every color and was often seen carrying it. The house changed the name of the bag from Chouchou to the Lady Dior bag, paying tribute to the public adoration of the princess in what would become their flagship bag.
Neapolitan Sophia Loren became known as Hollywood’s Italian bombshell during the ’60s. Loren was a loyal client and friend of Italian footwear brand Salvatore Ferragamo, often wearing the brand’s shoe styles. For the Ferragamo’s Spring/Summer 2009 collection, the brand paid homage to the actress by presenting the Sofia bag in her honor.
From CR Fashion Book