Sunday, February 10, 2008

Too Much is Never Enough?

This weekend I found myself having not one but two fairly lengthy conversations about very expensive handbags. The Birkin bag to be precise.

Now I call these very expensive bags the Trophy Bags which are very different from an ‘It Bag’. Aside from the fact that the reign of the ‘It Bag’ is over, the very notion was always transient as ‘It’ was only the sh** for one season….if you’re lucky.

The notion of an ‘It’ bag carried so much promise and has nothing to do with necessity. It’s the stuff of dreams and desire, its that holiday home in St Tropez you can’t afford embodied in slick snakeskin. It’s the infinitely optimistic fashion object unpertubed by the heavy hand of age or changes to the body. It offers the illusion of a lifestyle that most of its owners don’t possess. We carry it and it transports us into the lives we wish we were living.

(Online retailer saw sales of luxury handbags (those over $500) increase 11% last year.)

But the people who are living the moneyed life seem a little miffed at the masses getting their grubby mits on (perish the thought) the same handbags. And so it is that the people with the real cash are seeking more exclusivity in this day and age where too much is clearly never enough (see below).

The idea of owning a timeless handbag is a sensible one. They cost an arm, a leg and then some but an heirloom bag that will hold together longer than your face seems a wise investment.

When Coco Chanel defined luxury as ‘the necessity where necessity ends’, she defined the irrational passion for the handbag so well. An irrational passion indeed, as a complete handbag aficionado, trust me, I should know.

So lets start with the most famous of Trophy Bags, the Birkin. The Birkin bag is named after Jane Birkin. Generally, the price of a Birkin starts at approximately $7500 but the prices sky rocket when it is constructed from exotic animal skins. And FYI, with the sought after crocodile skins the bags with smaller scales cost much more than the bags with larger scales. The metallic hardware is usually gold plated or palladium (which unlike silver doesn’t tarnish). The artisans work meticulously on each bag spending between 18 to 25 hours creating it. The Paris workrooms produce an average of 5 a week which are then supplied worldwide. No wonder there’s a two year wait list.

Jane Birkin remarked that by 2006, the fame of the bag had exceeded that of herself: "Now when my daughter (actress Charlotte Gainsbourg) goes to America, they ask her if she is the daughter of the bag.”

BUT WAIT! I’m not really talking about the regular Birkin that any old rich chick can get. I’m talking about the Grand Dame of Birkins. The Hermes Birkin in Croc Porosus Lisse. It’s special order only obviously and is set with over 10…yes I said TEN carats of shiny sparkly diamonds (9 on the bag and 1.86 on the lock).
Let that marinate for a second.

And, dear reader, the Hermes Birkin in Croc Porosus Lisse comes with a very impressive price tag of $150 000.

Here’s where the real fun starts. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce the Chanel "Diamond Forever" tote.
It’s a pimped out diamond and alligator version of the classic 2.55. Its bedecked with an impressive 334 diamonds which weigh in at a suitably hefty 3.56 carats set in 18 carat white gold. And this one will set you back a mere $260, 150 honey.

Then we have the Lana Marks Cleopatra Clutch.
This comes in alligator flossed with 1 500 fully cut and faceted black AND white diamonds. Only five such clutches are made each year and weigh in at an infinitely more reasonable $100, 000.

Next is the Leiber Precious Rose.
Which has count ‘em 1016 diamonds, 1169 pink sapphires and 800 pink tourmalines all set in 18 carat white gold. How much? $92 big ones.

And then we have the LV Tribute bag which is a hotpotch mess of 15 different Louis Vuitton patterns cut up and reassembled. Again, I have to ask pre- or post rehab Marc? Anyway they come in at $42 000.

And quite frankly I think that's enough for one day. I need to go lie down.



Renaissance Man said...


I'm from the school of thought that any Hermes creation is fantabulous especially the Birkin. I think every woman should have at least one in every available colour.


I cannot wait to treat myself to a Birkin bag. It won' be anytime soon, however. lol!

Nice blog you have here.

Stephanie said...

Thats funny renaissance man...considering some ladies cant save up to own just one Birkin.I think the Birkin bags are beautiful,i only admire from afar tho cause i cant afford one yet but soon God's willing.That LV bag is a disaster and to think Beyonce tried to make a fashion statement with it..Never really trusted her fashion sense tho..

shopliquorice said...


Tiger Tem said...

@ Renaissance Man...well I guess your wife will be a lucky lady then!

@solomonsydelle...I hear you on that. but after all's been said and done if I do buy a birkin it will be like buying a mercedes. Not crazy about them but they are very appropriate for a certain stage in life!

@stephanie...beyonce is absolutely gorgeous but has NO style!! Not one ounce.

@shopliquorice...yes, quite.

SET said...

Nice bags with the exception of the LV bag, what a disaster. Beyonce is crazy for carrying such a bag. cosigning, she has no style.
I think these prices are insane, the 18 to 25 hours put into the making of the Birkin bag still doesn't make sense to me concerning the prices. I am hoping that I get one as a gift.
Ilove bags but not a fan of most 'it bags' since it screams trendy. some will be timeless so i am ok when that's the case.
I read some where that the most for these uber expensive bags clients comes from Russia, Texas, USA and the Middle East. Its that oil money, lol

Naija Chickito said...

Some expensive Sh*t. OMG!!!
That's all I can say!

Anonymous said...

JESUS Christ!! Those bags are as expensive as my college tuition for 4years!!(and maybe even some grad school) An ivy league at that too!!!...but the Birkin is pretty Fab!!! day sigh!

Uzo said...


Emmm..Adrienne Vittadini made a bag that looks like the Birkin Bag and i can say that i copped one that set me back $300.

But i am so over the Birkin bag now..Too many look alikes...

Now these other bags are cute for novelty value..But my bag is like a throw it all in there tool..I dont want to be worrying that one of the diamonds fell out...Ish!

Also...i would rather have a beautiful house with tons of closet space first before i splurge on this type of stuff....I would never spend this much on anything sooooo transient

Doreen said...

The LV bag is abstract art! I personally would want one as a collectors item!
I watched a documentary on how it was made and it was just SO interesting to see their intepretation of putting different LV bags together!
For some reason everyone saw the bag as a retail product which it is really not...its a limited edition only for the TRUE LV lovers!!!
In the words of jayz and Beyonce, "it ain't for everybody!"...literally.

Tiger Tem said...

@ Doreen..big B fan I see. I'm not ignoring your comments on the 99 Problems post...will blog on that later...

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