Jane Birkin, Grace Kelly, Jackie O – WWD

It’s no secret that designers find inspiration for their muses in certain models, actresses, singers and, in some cases, royalty.

Over the years, the fashion world has seen certain bags establish themselves as some of the most iconic and distinctive to date – often thanks in large part to the style icons who wear them constantly.

On occasion, these women wore the handbags so often that some designer brands renamed them in their honor.

From Jane Birkin to Princess Diana to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, WWD takes a look at some of the women behind the most iconic designer bags. Scroll to find out more.

Jane Birkin for Hermes Birkin

Jane Birkin and her Birkin bag.
Stéphane Feugère/WWD

Although the name “Birkin” is steeped in luxury connotations now, in the 80s it was simply the name of a world famous It girl: Jane Birkin.

According to Hermès, the multi-hyphenated star was flying on an Air France flight from Paris to London in 1984 and while talking to the gentleman next to her, Birkin “complained that he couldn’t find a bag suitable for his travel needs. young mother”. .” The man remarked that she should have a bag with pockets, to which Birkin replied, “The day Hermès makes one with pockets, I’ll have that.”

It turned out that the man she told this to was Jean-Louis Dumas, then executive chairman of Hermès. He replied that he worked for Hermès and would make him one with pockets. Hence the birth of the now legendary Birkin bag.

Princess Diana for Christian Dior Lady Dior

Bag Dior Harrods 2013 Lady Dior Princess Diana

Princess Diana carrying a Lady Dior bag in Birmingham, circa 1996.
Press Cherruault/Sipa

Originally called the Chouchou, the ever-popular Lady Dior bag is said to have been given to Diana, Princess of Wales by Bernadette Chirac, the former first lady of France, during her visit to Paris in 1995. The princess then continued to wear the bag for the next year, taking it almost everywhere she went, be it a charity event or the coveted Met Gala.

In 1996, Dior officially renamed the Chouchou to Lady Dior bag in honor of the late princess.

Audrey Hepburn for Louis Vuitton Speedy 25

The Calais Lace Museum unveils the Hubert de Givenchy exhibition

Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy in Paris.
Courtesy Private Collection H. de Givenchy

Like Onassis, the Speedy 25 became synonymous with the legendary actress after she was seen and photographed almost everywhere wearing it. The Louis Vuitton Speedy bag was available in three different sizes, 30, 35 and 40 centimeters, and was extremely practical for traveling.

After the success of her blockbuster movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, Hepburn asked if a smaller 25 centimeter version of the Speedy could be made so she could wear it every day. Thus, the Speedy 25 was born.

To this day, the iconic monogrammed bag remains one of the French brand’s most popular and sought-after purses.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for Gucci Jackie

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wearing a black dress, sunglasses and the Gucci

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wearing a black dress, sunglasses and the Gucci “Jackie” handbag in New York on September 18, 1968.
Fairchild Archive/Penske Media

Gucci’s now Jackie bag was originally called the Fifties Constance. By the 70s, Onassis had continued her style icon streak by becoming a socialite and book publisher, carrying her Fifties Constance everywhere, which made the hobo bag hugely popular and synonymous with the former first lady.

The bag made a comeback during Tom Ford’s tenure at the luxury Italian fashion house in the ’90s, and then again during Frida Giannini’s.

The brand’s current creative director, Alessandro Michele, brought the bag back again for Gucci’s Fall 2021 show, with a more contemporary twist. The Jackie bag now comes in several colorways and has been seen on Harry Styles, Elle Fanning and Cate Blanchett, proving its timelessness and versatility.

Ricky Lauren for Ralph Lauren Ricky Bag

Ralph LaurenRicky Lauren

Ralph and Ricky Lauren in 1974.
Nick Machalaba / WWD Archives

It’s only natural to find a muse in your own wife, which Ralph Lauren did when he designed his Ricky bag. The handbag was introduced into the designer’s permanent collection in 2005, inspired by the classic, equestrian-chic style of his wife Ricky.

Bag Ricky Ralph Lauren

The Ralph Lauren “Ricky” bag.
Cathy Crawford

Lauren married Ricky Ann Loew-Beer in December 1964. They share three children, sons Andrew and David and daughter Dylan, and remain married.

Grace Kelly for Hermes Kelly

Grace Kelly holds what would become the Kelly bag in 1959 seen with Philadelphia surgeon James Lehman The actress was in town to have her appendix removed

Grace Kelly holds what would become the Kelly bag, in 1959, seen with Philadelphia surgeon James Lehman.
Popperfoto/Getty Images

The famous actress-turned-princess was known for carrying her now eponymous Hermès bag even before the brand named it after her.

Kelly, who married into the Monaco royal family in 1956, was reportedly first seen carrying the Kelly bag while filming Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘To Catch a Thief’. Hitchcock is said to have authorized costume designer Edith Head to work with the French label for the film.

After her marriage to Prince Rainier III, Kelly apparently used the bag often on outings to hide her baby bump from photographers.

In 1977 Hermès renamed the bag Hermès Kelly bag.

Sophia Loren for Salvatore Ferragamo Sofia

Sophia Loren in Rome, 1966.

Sophia Loren in Rome in 1966.
Farabo the picture

Italian actress and style icon Sophia Loren was known to be close to Ferragamo. Although many stars loved the designer’s designs, including Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, Loren was a loyal customer of the brand over the years, known for wearing his custom heels.

Sofia Salvatore Ferragamo bag

A Sofia bag by Salvatore Ferragamo.
Courtesy of Tradesy

When Ferragamo died in 1960, his family took over the business. In 2009, they launched the Sofia bag in honor of Loren and her continued loyalty to the luxury fashion house.


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