May 16, 2011

The Birkin In The Room

Via The Covetour

Yesterday there was a guest at lunch. An elephant in the room, if you will. My dear friend's mother was kind enough to lend out her Birkin. The key word being LEND. This is not a bag that you borrow and return when you get around to it. The expectations were agreed upon upfront. Obtaining a Birkin is no fortuitous event. There was a five year waiting list to purchase this particular purse. Not to mention the price. 

I have never been a person who covets the "must have bag", however there is no denying that some bags are iconic. Chanel's 2.55 and Reissue,  Louis Vuitton's Speedy, Gucci's Jackie O and Hermès' Birkin are all purses that have stood the test of time. Each of these bags is engrained in our lexicon. I would argue that my dear ladylike Celine Box Bag is on par with the aforementioned timeless bags. These bags are recognizable. The brands have integrity.

My friend has been looking forward to borrowing the Birkin for months. Hermès is a brand that can cause hysteria. If you have ever experienced the annual sample sale, then you know what I mean. I have witnessed expectant mothers line up with lawn chairs in hand (a major fete since New Yorker's don't do lines)  to enter the annual sale. The sale was that good. I digress...

Each Hermès purse is handmade by skilled craftsmen. It can take up to 48 hours to complete one purse from start to finish. The finest materials are used. Alligator, calf, crocodile goat, and ostrich skin are tanned to cultivate the soft, buttery feel that we all love. The Birkin is hand stitched. The locks, keys, buckles and protective feet are made of gold or another high quality precious metal. All of the hardware is stamped with an "H" which I am partial to since it is one of my initials. The craftsmanship involved with every aspect of the process means that finished products are distributed to Hermès boutiques on an unpredictable schedule. This is partly responsible for the long wait to purchase. 

There is no denying that this is an elegant bag. I have known countless poised mature women who carry a Birkin. Yet as we each tried on the bag (complete with a little twirl) we found it disconcerting. The Birkin can be worn in a multitude of ways and can even be worn casually. My friend's and I adored this bag, but felt that we needed to grow into it. It felt a bit like we were playing dress up in our mother's clothes. Peering into the mirror like young girls do at our reflections. 

The saying "women in their twenties shouldn't wear diamonds and women in their thirties should ONLY wear diamonds" is bantered around my company frequently. I dislike the notion of forgoing diamonds, however the idea is that your twenties should be a time to define and hone your individual aesthetic. For some people that comes more naturally, but for others it's a process of trying different looks until you find what suits you. In a world that is consumed with youth it is refreshing to know that there are good things to come. 

Do you have a bag that you covet?


  1. This is beautiful! I disagree with the statement that you shouldn't wear this or that in your twenties! In fact I think the Birken looks much better on those under 30! As for bags...I haven't found one to covet! I would like something that is really well-made, classic, hip, and not too recognizable. (I expect to pay a lot, but don't want it to be apparent that I did so!) Suggestions?

  2. I love your blog. It's intelligent. It makes me think about fashion and my personal style- so thank you. It is clear that you know your stuff:)

    I know what you mean about the Birken. Although you seem so elegant that I can't imagine that you can't pull it off. I love the Celine Box Bag, but on me it doesn't look right. It falls awkwardly. I can't explain it. So it's on my list of items that I'll shelve and try again at another point. Have a good day!

  3. I agree with you about how this is a bag someone needs to grow into - a young girl carrying looks like she carrying it as a play thing. There are some things I keep thinking I will appreciate better when I get older, like pearls (few people I know can pull this off without looking all dowager-ish).

    I prefer the Kelly to the Birkin but both are distinctive designs and you're right, they are bags with integrity.

    I'm currently wondering where I can get my hands on a navy Chanel reissue. I think I can be very happy with the black, but the navy would THE dream come true. I keep imagining distressed oxblood leather as well...

  4. thelinesheet- I agree with you. Style is ageless! It's good to hear your perspective on the Birkin.

    I like your criteria for the perfect bag. Well made is key. I also think there is nothing like a wonderful bag that isn't recognizable. It adds a certain allure. I need to think a bit, but I will certaintly come up with a few suggestions for you.

    Anonymous- Thank you. I truly appreciate your encouragement.

    It's such a personal thing- My friend says the same thing about the Celine Box Bag. It's good to really take your time to think it through before purchasing.

    Lin- Personally that is how I feel. I looked like I was playing dress up. I think it's a bag that you can definately appreciate more when your older.

    You raise an interesting point. Kelly Vs. Birkin. Honestly I'm more of a Kelly girl too. The Kelly is a bit more formal and refined. The Birkin is sporty. I like that the Kelly can be worn out in the evening, but is structured enough for a business meeting.

    The navy reissue is gorgeous. It's a classic bag that looks right in a multitude of settings. To me navy can look a bit more luxe than black. I also love the oxblood. The reissue is an understated Chanel purse. Good luck getting your hands on it.

  5. "'s a process of trying different looks until you find what suits you." Great line. I think that applies to everything.

    I've never liked diamonds (or any gem stones in fact) so I can't relate to that one. Plus every second person has a diamond these days. So rarely do they look special or unique.

    But I guess that really illustrates your point. I may not like a diamond but I've found other jewelry that sits well with me.

    (Love the colour of the Birkin in this image. Stunning. STUNNING!)

  6. Many of things I like I can't exactly pinpoint WHEN I started liking them. The Birkin is one of those things for me. Though I'm content to stick to my poor man's versions. I always have vtg kelly saved in my ebay searches, yet I pass on them every time for some reason. Oddly enough my "favorite handbags of all time" many are by Fendi: Spy, Crossword clutch, and crocodile Twin. I love crocodile, and I have my eyes on a crocodile tote. I also love the Dior Samurai bag in black and the YSL Mombassa in red. Also Issey Miyake bilboa bags in black patent are pretty cool too.

  7. I would be apprehensive about lending out a Birkin too! I'm personally very careful about earning the clothes I wear. I don't like to dress in something that is or looks like it's way over my budget, and I believe that there's a right time for everything. As a student, I don't think my lifestyle and income is one that suits a Birkin--or, for that matter, any number of designer handbags. I literally go through handbags like water, because my textbooks are huge. As a matter of physics, even high quality leather and stitching will tear if used to haul gigantic casebooks around on a daily basis.

    Of course, my days as a student are numbered, but I don't really know what my lifestyle will be like after I graduate. I would love a LVxSC tote or Celine box bag but I'm reluctant to start saving unless I lead a life where such bags would be practical. I feel like, in that sense, the quote you mentioned is accurate: you kind of know your career by your 30s and you can make some really long term investments then. Most people don't know anything about their futures in their 20s--particularly their early 20s--so an expensive investment might not be wise at all. I personally know that I won't be making any fashionable purchases over 500USD until I get my first job and pass the bar; and, even then, I probably won't buy anything like a Birkin until I've paid off a huge chunk of my debt.

  8. As the proud owner of a 2.55 I can say that I lusted after (and saved for) it for a long time before I took the plunge in Paris at the beginning of the year. I must admit I am confused by girls my own age wearing a Birkin - I almost always assume it is a fake or borrowed from an older relative - because it doesn't look right. I agree that it is something to grow into.
    My new lust is for a Celine micro luggage bag in the tricolor. Don't like my chances of finding one though!

  9. Alice Olive- It's so true.

    I love that you have never liked diamonds or gem stones and you stick to it. A lot of personal style is about having that conviction. Knowing what you like and dislike. That's key.

    I would love to know what jewelry you do like. I'm curious! I love unique jewelry and one of a kind pieces.

    The color of that Birkin is subtle, but it really is STUNNING.

    Prêt à Porter P - I'm the same way. I love that there are items that I have loved for such a long time, that when I purchase them, I don't have to second guess myself.

    I love your list of bags. The Dior Samurai is a collector's item and yet it's wearable. I find that it's rare to find the combination. my grandmother collected crocodile bags and I find that I'm drawn to them too.

    Keep vintage Kelly bag in your ebay search. When the time is right you'll make the plunge!

    0000- You raise a great point! I think dressing for your lifestyle is so important. It's one of the determining factors when it comes to my style. I do find it challenging. I don't want to look like I'm playing dress up, but I do need to dress to command authority and respect. It's a difficult position to find yourself in.

    The LVxSC tote is beautiful. We all know I have a love for all things Celine.

    La Fille mal Gardée- Congrats on your 2.55. It's a great back that's timeless and looks good now, but you won't outgrow it. It's one of my favorites. Doesn't it feel good to work toward something that you truly love?

    Ah the issue of the fake Birkin. No matter how good the fake (and they have gotten good) I can tell. The seams always give even the goo fake away.

    Thw Celine micro luggage bag- I covet!

  10. I love this bag. Even if I don't own one, I really seek out this shape often.

    PS...I doubt I would be able to lend out a Birkin if I did own one for fear of letting it out of my sight!

  11. Erica- The shape is really nice. Especially for work- where I always have so many papers, files, etc etc.

    I know. I don't consider myself materialistic, but there are some things that I would never let out of my sight.