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An Ode To Jane Birkin: The Icon Behind The 'It Bag' Jane Birkin, the British-French actress and singer who inspired the iconic Hermes Birkin bag, died in Paris on July 16 (Sunday). She was 76. She is known best for inspiring the creation of the most coveted luxury bag by Hermes called the Birkin.

By Kavya Pillai

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The popular British-French actress was known for her effortlessly chic style and was a significant figure in the 1960s and 70s. Despite her illustrious celluloid career, Jane Birkin is known best for inspiring the creation of the most coveted luxury bag by Hermes called the Birkin.

The Birkin bag was created on a flight from Paris to London in 1984. The actor found herself seated next to the luxury brand Hermes CEO Jean-Louis Dumas. When the contents of her straw bag fell on the floor, she explained to Dumas how difficult it was to find a good leather bag. This conversation led Dumas to create a black supple leather bag for her, which later became the Birkin Bag. Since then, the Birkin bag has become a symbol of wealth and exclusivity with its prices ranging from Rs 8,20,775 to Rs 3,69,29,025.

Although the concept of the bag was created out of thin-international air, the Birkin bag did not immediately gain popularity. However, in the 1990s the bag inspired by Jane Birkin became the 'It Bag' and was established as a status symbol. Its popularity skyrocketed in 2001 when the then-hit show Sex and City featured their feisty character Samantha's quest to get her hands on the elusive bag, including being placed on a five-year waitlist.

What makes this bag even more special is that it is an investment piece. The Jane Birkin-inspired bag is one of the few luxury pieces that are in rarity and have an annual price hike. Meaning, the bag naturally increases in value if bought with a long-term view in mind. At the start of 2023, there was an 8-10 per cent increase across Birkin styles.

A Birkin bag takes expert artisans a minimum of 18 hours to create and is marked with a code that identifies its year of creation, the workshop it was crafted in and the artisan who made it. To buy a Birkin directly from Hermes, customers are expected to have a purchase history with the brand. And an even longer and pricier history if they wish to get their hands on some exclusive Birkin designs.

Born in London in December 1946, Birkin moved to France in the late 1960s, where she became an international star. Her acting career spanned several decades, with notable roles in films such as Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup (1966) and Slogan (1969). To the fashion industry, this icon will forever be dear for creating the greatest impact of design, style and luxury an actor has ever had.

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