This old thing

Jane Birkin - Hermes Birkin bag

I’ve been reading up about the crazy world of status bags and watches and deduced that the only way around the unavailability of ‘It’ Hermès Birkins and Rolex Daytonas is to go the imperfect route. As even pre-loved icons are hard to obtain (mint-conditioned pieces command the highest prices), better to go for the less-than-pristine patina, no?

For me, this aligns with my love of a well-worn leather tote. I just came across a picture on Pinterest of Jane Birkin’s legendary Birkin (above). You know, the one she adorned with personal charms and trinkets – and then auctioned for charity. This bag lived! The picture linked to a ten-year-old old Purse Forum thread on ‘slouchy, floopy, used Birkins’, imploring Birkin owners to share their own photos. (Purse Forum is a long-standing Hermès-owners’ hangout.)

Hermès Box Kelly Retourne 40 Black

This gallery of gently bashed-up lady bags made me feel better about my déshabillé Chanel Cerf Executive tote. It’s a brilliant work bag, with one main compartment and two outer pockets plus two further internal pockets. It’s a timeless workhorse that elicits compliments for its pragmatic design at every outing. At nearly 20 years old, it’s certainly seen better days but… I quite like it like that. For me, the soft ‘floopy’ patina says it’s well-loved, practical and personal. And far more appealing than the unyielding, box-fresh alternative.

Certain bags lend themselves to this less precious treatment. I might not be so cavalier with a blush pink box calf Constance, for example. But a little black Kelly Retourne (above), Valextra pocket tote*, or Métier Incognito* are fair game.

Of course, if you’re going for the floopy look, you need a bit more polish elsewhere. Team your lived-in tote with equal parts formal blazer and faded Levi’s, or vintage Gap chinos. Or take a tip from Carré Otis in 1991 Vogue Italia (posing with Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele’s bag – below) and juxtapose a laidback Birkin and biker jacket with posh silk scarf and optic whites.

Vogue Italia September 1991 Carre Otis by Michael Roberts with Hermes Birkin


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Jane Birkin; Ashley Olsen; Carré Otis by Michael Roberts/Vogue Italia
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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