New handbag releases, in line with the ever-changing trend cycle, will always be an inevitable part of life in fashion. And while these will always come and go, there are some silhouettes that are undoubtedly, forever. The sentiment of an everlasting shape means more than just leaning on the classics, but one that can be relied on to carry us through the waves of the zeitgeist, and eave us feeling like we never took a wrong turn. A risk-less addition, if you will, to many people's wardrobe, let alone a sound investment for anyone looking to make their first luxury purchase. Below, we pay homage to the iconic designer handbags we will always return to, with our top 10 favourites.
Undeniably one of the most iconic, and expensive bags to grace the earth, the Birkin is all time. Conceived on a flight from Paris to London in 1984, famous basket aficionado, Jane Birkin, was sat next to Jean-Louis Dumas, Executive Chairman of Hermès at the time, and was complaining that she couldn’t find a bag suitable for her needs as a young mother. So the holdall Birkin was born, and remains one of the most coveted and exclusive fashion items in history, to this day.
One of the most notorious modern silhouettes associated with Chanel is the Classic Handbag. Buttery quilted lambskin is elevated with gold hardware and a woven gold chain strap, finished with a CC clasp and a double flap. Created by Karl Lagerfeld upon his arrival in 1983, the 11.12 handbag reinterprets the iconic 2.55 handbag and now stands as a versatile and timeless option for all.
As the name suggests, the Jackie was born in 1961, and named after former US First Lady Jackie Kennedy, who began to wear it so much that the silhouette was renamed after her. Known for its curved half-moon shape and its defining piston hardware, the Jackie comes in many colours and sizes, but we are quite partial to the classic Gucci monogram and strip combo to remind us of it's origin.
Dubbed one of the most iconic bags ever written into history, the Dior Lady has been firmly cemented as such for decades, since Princess Diana became attached to it following its release in 1995. In her honour, it was swiftly dubbed the Lady Dior bag by the first lady of France during the opening of a Cézanne exhibition. Wearing it consistently in public appearances, the Lady Dior bag sports a square silhouette topstitched with the iconic Cannage motif, rounded top handles and D.i.o.r charms. Available in many sizes, you can see why it was so beloved by Diana, and all those influenced by her.
One of the most defining accessories of all the aughts, the Balenciaga Motorcycle silhouette was seldom not on the arm of an iconic socialite. Designed by then-creative director Nicolas Ghesquire, the slouchy bag is defined by studded and zip hardware details, with dangling tassels that give off a big biker energy. Now reimagined by Demna Gvasalia as the Neo Classic, the bag still carries all the same motifs we first fell in love with.
“It’s not a bag – it’s a Baguette!” Carrie Bradshaw once screeched at her mugger in an episode of Sex and The City, and so the Fendi Baguette's popularity skyrocketed, and save for a brief phase in the early 2010s where mini bags were effectively out, the silhouette of the baguette has endured it all. Born in 1997 by Silvia Venturini Fendi, the Fendi Baguette is often cited as the first it bag of it's kind, which is certainly debatable, but once it is slung comfortably under ones arm by its top handle, it is clear to see why.
Brought to life in 1930 as a response to the evolution of the era's rapid transit, the Speedy became undoubtedly more popular when Audrey Hepburn took a liking to it, as all iconic bags seem to. Delighted by a smaller iteration of the brands legendary Keepall, after being photographed wearing the bag, requests for the bag skyrocketed it to icon status, and it makes sense why: a timeless House icon, with its singular silhouette, monogrammed leather body, rolled leather handles and engraved signature padlock make it one of the most notable handbags of the 21st century.
While the Telfar Shopping Bag is a newer addition, the cult status this bag has reached in such a short timeframe indicates that it will be a classic for years to come. Dubbed this decades most important accessory and debuted in 2014 by Telfar Clemens, the Telfar sentiment of "Not For You – For Everyone." rings true for the viral, often completely sold out Shopping Bag. The bag itself features a double strap, embossed logo, a main compartment with magnetic snap closure and internal zipper pocket and is made from faux leather and twill lining. If other iconic, timeless bags are out of your price range, the Telfar Shopping Bag is the one for you, if you can manage to access one, that is.
A vital component of Prada’s heritage and a hallmark of its approach to contemporary fashion is Prada's Nylon collection. Prada’s most iconic accessory, the Nylon Backpack, was introduced in 1984 by Miuccia Prada, with its popularity soaring as 90s supermodels were captured running between shows with their nylon backpacks slung over a single shoulder. The Nylon Backpack will always serve as the most laid-back iteration of designer handbags.
In the 1930s, Robert Dumas, son-in-law of Émile Hermès, whom he succeeded at the head of Hermès, created the women’s bag with straps. that bag was what we now know as at Kelly, a trapezoid shape with two triangular gussets, a cutout flap, a handle and two side straps. How did it get its iconic name today? It is said that in the late 1950s, Grace Kelly was photographed holding the bag over her stomach to conceal the early signs of her pregnancy. The bag shot to international fame and was renamed the Kelly, and remains to be one of the most coveted and well known bags in history.