Style icon Jane Birkin’s look through the decades

There were the shrunken T-shirts, the ripped jeans, and her favorite espadrilles. There were the babydoll dresses that few besides actress Mia Farrow wore with more enthusiasm. There were the Breton striped jackets that helped popularize it. There was a sheer floral crochet dress she once wore to a French Arts Union gala, whose plunging neckline was strategically pinned, albeit barely, with a brooch. There was the tousled bangs she’s maintained her entire life and appears to have cut it herself with cuticle scissors.

“Her style was very different from the American style,” said Ms. Sui, and she introduced “something new to our fashion vocabulary.” The designer was asked what exactly is this style? “There was something British about it, that slightly wrinkled English look but combined with classic French codes,” she said.

Perhaps the ultimate example of this is the Hermès Birkin bag. Prior to her invention, Mrs. Birkin was often depicted carrying a straw basket filled with make-up, keys, and miscellaneous tools. “I’ve been known to carry a basket,” she explained in a 2018 interview on YouTube. “So obviously I knew girls like to have a lot of stuff in their handbag.”

It was her oversized basket and overflowing contents that caught the eye of Jean-Louis Dumas, CEO of Hermès, on a flight from Paris to London and inspired him to create a bag roomy enough for all her stuff. “I love being a stylish person and wearing Kelly,” Ms. Birkin once explained, referring to a box-shaped handbag created and named after the movie’s star, Grace Kelly. “But I never thought you could get enough of that.”

The bag’s style Birkin, in supple leather, was based on an earlier design, the Haut à Courroies, created by Hermès around 1900. With its looped handles, closed with a strap affixed to a signature piece of hardware (and often left unlocked to display the Hermès logo), The bag has become a globally recognized emblem of status and wealth. With a base price of over $10,000, the Perkins remains infinitely desirable and customizable (the Diamond Himalaya version became the most expensive handbag ever at auction when Sotheby’s sold it in 2022 for more than $450,000) and is worn and collected by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. , whose handbags are a subset of Internet pornography, as well as Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B.