Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Birkin vs. Kelly

I always say you should learn something new every day.  Call me crazy, but I woke up this morning and was thinking, "What is the difference between the Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags."  Obviously, the Birkin gets all the glory, so I was surprised to find that the Kelly bag was the original and the Birkin was adapted from it.  So, whether or not you ever use this information I think it's good to be informed.  And, if you see a lucky lady walking down the street with either you can rest assured you won't make an embarrassing faux pas and mix the two up.  So, are you a Kelly or a Birkin??

The Kelly

A Bit of History:  The bag was introduced in 1892 as a large saddle carrier, then downsized in the 1930's to a handbag.  It was only named the Kelly bag after Grace Kelly repeatedly used it to shield her baby bump from the paparazzi is the late 1950's (she had been married to Prince Rainier of Monaco for less than a year).  One of the pictures landed on the cover of Life magazine, and an iconic bag was born.  It suits her to a t, though: perfectly tailored, classically put together, and not in the least bit ostentatious (except for the price).  This is definitely the more formal of the two.

Defining Characteristics:
- One handle
- Removable shoulder strap
- Top flap is one continuous piece from the back of the bag
- It is ridiculously expensive

The Birkin

A Bit of History:  During a 1981 flight, British actress/singer/bohemian Jane Birkin accidentally spilled her stuffed-to-the-gills Kelly bag in front of a Hermes head honcho.  She complained that the bag was not incredibly practical for schleping the daily necessities around and she needed something a bit more casual.  Thus the birth of the Birkin.  Ironically, she doesn't carry her namesake bag anymore because she claims its weight when full gave her tendonitis. 

Defining Characteristics:
- Two handles
- Shoulder strap is not removable
- Top flap is a separate piece that is sewn onto the back in an top arc
- It is ridiculously, ridiculously expensive

Pop Quiz:  Which bag is Marc Jacobs using as a beach bag in St. Bart's??

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