Published on August 26th, 2013 | by beauty international


Top 10 Iconic Designer Handbags

It’s completely irrational to fall deeply in love with an inanimate accessory, but women (and men) have always desired the beautiful handbags made iconic by the famous arms they’re dangled from. New bags come onto the scene with every fashion season, but some styles are always instantly recognisable; these are the ones with enduring style, quality and demand.

image: Fendi Baguette (from, Longchamp Le Pliage (from

Fendi Baguette

Launched in 1997, the Fendi Baguette quickly became one of the most lusted-after bags in the world, and launching the craze for the latest, must-have ‘it bag’. Its creator, Silvia Venturini Fendi, wanted each Baguette (which is designed to be carried under the arm, just like its doughy namesake) to be a kind of miniature piece of art, to liven up any outfit. It proved irresistible to the busy modern woman, who couldn’t go home to change her outfit before heading out after work. The Baguette regularly featured in Sex and the City, and when Carrie Bradshaw was mugged, she shouted out “It’s not a bag, it’s a Baguette!”.

Seen on the arms of many a jet-setting celebrity and book-laden public schoolgirl, the Longchamp Le Pliage is one of the most affordable and versatile of all designer it bags. The Le Pliage was inspired by the Japanese paper-folding art, origami, and is meant to be simple, lightweight and foldable. It has been an incredibly popular bag since its launch in 1993, and today the leather-trimmed vinyl bags come in a wide variety of sizes and colours.

image: Hermes Kelly (from, Balenciaga Motorcycle (from

Hermès Kelly

The Kelly was first created in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, used different versions to hide her pregnant stomach from the paparazzi in 1956 that it reached it bag status. The bag was renamed in Grace Kelly’s honour, and has since been a favourite of many celebrities. It takes 18 hours to make just one Kelly handbag, which might go some way to explaining its price tag.

Balenciaga Lariat/Motorcycle

Designer Nicholas Ghesquière was inspired by sources as diverse as sci-fi robots, 1980s New Romantics and biker girls in the making of this bag. It was launched in 2001, and the first thirty created were sent to Ghesquière’s friends, who included Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Carine Roitfeld - all notable trendsetters, who helped popularise the bag. Its distressed leather and tassle, zip and rivet details lend a casual air of nonchalance, the ultimate model-off-duty look.

image: Chloe Paddington (from, Mulberry Alexa (from

Chloé Paddington

The designers at Chloé wanted to create a limited edition bag that would make its owners feel like part of an exclusive (and expensive) club, rallying against ‘fast fashion’ and high street imitations of designer items. The Paddington, with its distinctive, oversized lock and slouchy doctors bag shape is still relatively available today - if you’re willing to put your name on a long waiting list.

Mulberry Alexa

The Alexa was launched in the beginning of 2010 as a tribute to British it girl Alexa Chung. Mulberry’s then Creative Director, Emma Hill, was inspired to create the satchel after seeing Alexa wearing an old Mulberry men’s briefcase. The bag is still incredibly popular, and hundreds of high street imitations have been produced - though many people have bought the original, seeing Mulberry’s profits quadruple.

image: Hermes Birkin (from, Proenza Schouler PS1 (from

Hermès Birkin

The Birkin was introduced in 1984, and named after actress Jane Birkin - apparently, Jane was sat beside Hermès’ Chief Executive, Jean-Louis Damas, on a flight from Paris to London, and after hearing the actress complain about how she couldn’t find a weekend bag that she liked, Damas had the Birkin made for her. The Birkin is traditionally low in supply, and there’s a waiting list of up to six years to get one - although Victoria Beckham supposedly has a room full of them, in every colour imaginable.

Proenza Schouler PS1

The PS1 was launched in 2008, with designer Lazaro Hernandez called it the ‘anti-it bag’, although it quickly gained it bag status. The PS1 was named after the New York City public school system, and inspired by traditional school satchels. It now comes in a number of colours, fabrics and sizes.

image: Chanel 2.55 (from, Louis Vuitton Speedy (from

Chanel 2.55

Launched in February 1955 (hence its name), the 2.55 was a revolutionary evening bag. Women had previously had to carry clutches, leaving them with only one spare hand; Coco Chanel added the chain strap to allow them freedom of movement. Legend has it, one of the bag’s interior pockets is designated for secret love notes.

Louis Vuitton Speedy

The Speedy was launched in 1932, and was a crucial product in helping Louis Vuitton’s crossover from luxury luggage designer to world-famous fashion house. It became an it bag in the 1960s when celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn carried a Speedy everywhere they went - Audrey liked hers so much, she asked for a smaller version to be created.

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