Often we associate musicians and actors as being the setters of trends. We see Gaga, as Madonna before her and Dietrich before all, pushing envelopes to the brink. What we don’t often see is what is behind these covetous, celebrity driven pieces of art, created, worn and made for mass devouring. But notwithstanding societal memes, certain pieces must pass the test of time and be relevant generation after generation. To be truly aspirational an object has to be reminiscent of an era and tell a story.
Something anomalous occurred when Jean-Louis Dumas happened upon a traveler, on a jaunt from Paris to London. Jane Birkin was attempting to stuff her signature straw basket into the overhead when the contents tumbled to the floor. What to do for the weary jet-setter? Dumas, as any savvy Chief Executive of Hermès would, saw the icon in need of a trusty weekender and created for her — the Birkin Bag. What makes this situation so unique is that celebrity became muse for one of the most timeless pieces of fashion history. This pièce de résistance far outlasts even the most influential star. Often a designer crafts a haute couture gown or accessory for a celebrity to wear and then force feed to the ever-present flashbulb blinded masses. Here, in the case of the magnificent Birkin, with it’s meticulous craftsmanship and scarcity, the piece is the celebrity, having years long wait lists and broken arms at auction, the value holds far more clout than what is held on its handles. Needless to say, Jane Birkin stuck with her basket.