Why are Celebrities Defacing the Most Expensive Bag in the World?

Posted on March 20 2017

Last year, the most expensive designer handbag of all time was sold at an auction in Hong Kong for £208,175 ($300,168). The bag, made of rare Himalayan crocodile and adorned with white gold detailing and 245 diamonds, was none other than the famed and esteemed Hermes Birkin. While it may come as no surprise that an Hermes holds the title for most expensive handbag ever sold, what is surprising is how Birkins in general are being received in the marketplace.

It’s well known that Birkin bags are nearly impossible to even get your hands on; that is, if you don’t mind being on a 6-year waiting list. Rumor has it that the newest Hermes Birkins are only obtainable immediately to those who personally know someone in power with connections to the designer. (That explains why celebrities seem to have a new one every month!) The reason behind the madness is actually quite simple: just one Birkin bag takes about 48 hours to complete, by hand, from start to finish. The waiting list has been partly responsible for building up the hype around the bag, even earning it a spot as a plot point on the well-known and much-loved Sex and the City show. Long story short: the Birkin bag waiting list is legendary. Even still, we can’t get enough.

Hermes Birkin 35cm Tan Epsom Leather SatchelThe bag continues to make headlines today for a very different, and somewhat puzzling reason—celebrities are actually defacing their Birkin bags in a bold fashion statement that has us all scrambling to see how a personalized Birkin would look. The ultimate symbol of status and wealth, personalized? Why haven’t we seen this before? (We’re also willing to bet these will later be on the market for re-sell—we’ll keep our eyes peeled.) For now, let’s look at just some of the ways celebrities have done the unthinkable and gone DIY with their beloved Birkins in the name of high fashion.

One of the most talked about cases of a celebrity modifying their Birkin is from none other than fashion-forward style icon Kim Kardashian. According to the star, husband Kanye West surprised her with a Birkin that had been finger painted by her daughter, North West. On her computer was a video of North painting the bag outside! The crème and brown bag is splattered with red, yellow, and blue paint, and has a handprint in orange on the front.

Sister and fellow entrepreneur Khloe Kardashian has also been known to own a personalized Birkin. Her kiwi-colored Birkin is painted with the star’s “alter ego,” featuring the Monopoly man running through a sea of money and labeled “KHLOMONEY” in bold red letters. Can you say fashion statement?

Another pop culture and style icon that has taken it upon herself to personalize a Birkin bag is Lady Gaga. In 2010, the performer personalized the front of her white Birkin by writing in black marker “I Love Little Monsters, Tokyo Love” in Japanese. On the back of the bag are signatures of the singer’s Japanese fans. Also in her collection is a black Birkin adorned with silver metal spikes that cover the bag in its entirety.

Ironically enough, the first person to personalize their Hermes Birkin bag was the woman who the famed bag itself was designed for and named after, Jane Birkin. Jane customized her bags with stamps, beads, stickers, and charms in an effort to create a more unique and interesting bag that was personal to her—even saying her goal was to make it look like anything but a Birkin! While there’s no telling how long this trend will continue, it’s fascinating to see which celebrities have personalized their own Birkin bags in honor of Jane and of the bag itself. What’s your take on people defacing their Birkins?

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