The Most Iconic Handbags Worth The Investment
If you’re someone who carries a handbag; said bag likely isn’t just an accessory, but a loyal and steadfast companion that goes wherever you do each and every day. And when you consider that a luxury handbag is often no small investment, when looking to make a new purchase it’s simply good sense to look for one that has stood the test of time.
Of course, trends have their place, and there’s much that can be said for an of-the-moment statement accessory. But there are few things more powerful (sartorially speaking, of course) than a classic ‘It’ bag.
Here, we round up the iconic styles that have stood the test of time — from the Hermès Birkin to the Chanel 2.55 — and earn themselves a place as the fashion set’s firm favorites.
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Hermès ‘Birkin’ bag
First, created in 1984 for — who else? — Jane Birkin, no other bag has become a marker of status (and indeed, excess) quite like this iconic Hermès leather bag. The story goes that a few years prior to the bag’s inception, the actress was seated next to the brand’s chairman; Jean-Louis Dumas, on a flight from Paris to London, when she griped about not being able to find a bag practical; yet chic, enough for a young mother-of-three. Dumas was inspired to whip up a sketch on the spot, and the bag came to be after a few years spent in production. Now a highly covetable collectors’ item; the bags vary widely in price depending on size and the materials used. But regularly garner more than their original sale price on the second-hand luxury goods market.
Buy Hermès Birkin 30 bag $31,047, Farfetch
Chanel ‘2.55’ bag
Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s mark on the fashion world as we know it is immeasurable, but one of her most pervasive legacies is the 2.55 bag which she first created in February 1955 (yes, hence the name). At the time bags with top handles and clutch-style purses reigned supreme, so the long chain shoulder strap was considered somewhat revolutionary. That very chain still makes the bag a favorite, recreated season after season in various colors, fabrics, and sizes.
Shop Chanel 2.55 Aged Calfskin & Gold-Tone Metal Handbag
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Louis Vuitton ‘Speedy’
Created for brand darling Audrey Hepburn in 1930, Louis Vuitton’s now-iconic bag came about when the actress reportedly asked the fashion house to create a more wearable everyday version of its ‘Keepall’ luggage bag. Originally called the ‘Express’, the current iteration made from Louis Vuitton’s signature monogram in canvas and leather.
Shop Louis Vuitton Speedy bag
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Balenciaga ‘Motorcycle’ bag
At the height of the gritty boho-meets-muso aesthetic that permeated the early 2000s. Balenciaga’s leather ‘Motorcycle’ bag emerged and was promptly seen on the arm of almost every major celebrity of the time. (perhaps best characterized by, but not limited to, Kate Moss, both Olsen twins, and Sienna Miller). Heavy on metal hardware and tassel details, and designed by now-Louis Vuitton creative head Nicolas Ghesquière; the bag remains popular to this day.
Shop Balenciaga Classic City Mini leather tote
Fendi ‘Baguette’ bag
Perhaps no other bag on this list has boomeranged back into favor quite like the Fendi Baguette; named for the way designed to be tucked under the arm like bread. First created in 1997 by Silvia Venturini Fendi. Cemented as one of the biggest ‘It’ bags of its time thanks to Carrie Bradshaw. But fell somewhat out of the zeitgeist in the years following. It’s now firmly back in the fashion consciousness; seen toted on (or under) the arms of everyone from Gigi Hadid to Zoe Kravitz — and every blogger worth their follower count in between.
SHOP Fendi Baguette Bag
Dior ‘Lady Dior’ bag
This charming Dior bag first appeared in 1995; after Princess Diana gifted a custom version by Bernadette Chirac, then France’s First Lady. Diana’s penchant for the bag quickly propelled it into popularity, and the fashion house put it into wider production.
Dior Lady D-Lite” bag in blue velvet Cannage embroidery, dior.com
While several bags from French fashion house Céline have reached cult status, including its mini-sized Trio and Classic box bag; the Luggage has truly stood the test of time. Released in 2010 when the brand was helmed by beloved designer Phoebe Philo (who has since been succeeded by Hedi Slimane); for many, it’s a relic of Philo’s golden era. Along with being a practical carryall, the bag is a testament to the brand’s intuitive design and fashion-forward wearability.
Celine Mini Luggage Handbag in Drummed Calfskin, Pre-owned
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Gucci ‘Jackie 1961’
Beloved for its curved shape and instantly recognizable house hardware; Gucci’s Jackie 1961 is a modern classic. Reinvented by Alessandro Michele in a range of colors, plus subtle updates on classic styles; it’s finding favor anew – as with much that Michele is doing for the brand.
Gucci Jackie 1961 small hobo bag, $2670, gucci.com
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Mulberry Bayswater Handbags Worth The Investment
Brit label Mulberry also has an impressive history of It Bags (including the Roxanne, R.I.P). But the Bayswater is arguably the brand’s most iconic. It was a classic from its launch (shortly after Luella Bartley’s Giselle) in 2002. As Mulberry’s Creative Director Emma Hill said: “I have a Bayswater, my son’s grandmother has a Bayswater, Kate Moss has a Bayswater”.
Shop Mulberry Bayswater
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Givenchy Antigona Iconic Handbags Worth The Investment
Introduced in the AW10 Ready-To-Wear collection; (and named after the three-act Italian opera by the composer Tommaso Traetta); Givenchy’s Antigona may set you back a few thousand pounds, but the classic design and multiple updates have seen it on the arm of editors; and A-Listers everywhere from Beyonce to Naomi Watts.
Buy Givenchy Antigona Handbags
Gucci Bamboo Iconic Handbags Worth The Investment
Developed in a Gucci backroom in Florence in 1947; at the time, the bamboo handle on this iconic bag was actually a way to think around war-time shortages; rather than a design quirk. But over the decades, Bamboo became synonymous with the house of Gucci; with bamboo prints featuring on scarves; and bamboo used in every accessory from watch straps to jewelry. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, worn by countless stars; (Liz Taylor was a fan). Today the ‘New Bamboo’ is just as popular with everyone from Florence Welch to Carla Bruni Sarkozy.
Shop Gucci Bamboo Collection Farfetch.com
Proenza Schouler PS1 Iconic Handbags
Launched in 2008 as a reaction to the gaudier it bags of the time; uber-cool New York label Proenza Schouler; named the PS1 handbag line after the New York City public school system; inspired by the traditional school satchel. Designer Lazaro Hernandez said it was “The anti-It-bag”; although it soon gained it-bag status; spotted on the arms of Kirsten Dunst; the Olsen Twins and Jessica Alba.
SHOP Proenza Schouler PS1 Iconic Handbags, $594 Farfitch.com
Miuccia Prada took over the family business in 1978; at the age of 28 with a degree in political science; no fashion qualifications; and turned the declining brand into a household name with the subtly branded; but a distinguishable backpack. Made from hardwearing waterproof fabric; Pocone, its slouchy yet smart design appealed to young, practical fashionistas.