Iconic Bags Countown #1: Hermes Birkin
As if you hadn't guessed it already, the number 1 classic bag of all time in our countdown is the Hermes Birkin. The Holy Grail of handbags, this legendary bag has appeared in many guises - sober and colourful leathers, ostrich and smooth finishes - but always with the same, instantly recognisable simple styling that's become the envy of celebs and 'normal' people alike. But how did this relatively modest-looking bag come to be so big?
Handbag History: Launched in 1981, the Birkin is named after actress and singer Jane Birkin, whom Hermès then-chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas had met on a flight. Birkin was struggling with a straw bag she had carried on board, because she couldn't find a leather bag shed liked, and at one point dropped its contents all over the floor. Clearly, she needed better luggage!
Seeing this as a challenge, Dumas set about designing a leather weekend bag for the star, and the Birkin was born. Clearly inspired by the earlier Kelly but large enough to take all the extra bits and pieces that a lady might need on a short trip away, the Birkin was soon found to be not only stylish, but hugely practical, too.
In Our View: The weird thing about the Birkin is that it's not really all that amazing in terms of its styling or appearance. Relatively plain and completely logo-free, It's become an icon, but it's far from being the most showy or eye-catching bag in our countdown and that is very much part of its appeal.
It's interesting to note that the Birkin, along with the Chanel 2.55, is one of two bags in our top 5 that was designed by a woman with a woman's practical needs in mind, and we think that accounts for much of its popularity, too. Finally, its exclusivity and constant celebrity endorsement has done much for the Birkin's success, and Victoria Beckham's obsession with the bag has breathed new life into it in recent years.
Celeb Fans: Jane Birkin, Victoria Beckham (who owns more than 100), Beyonce (who apparently received $350k worth of Birkins at Christmas!), Jessica Biel, Sharon Stone, Martha Stewart, Hilary Duff, Janet Jackson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Courtney Love, Sharon Osbourne, Lady Gaga (who owns a customised, studded Birkin), David Beckham, Kate Moss, Julia Roberts
Get the Look: Now that Hermes have scrapped the waiting list (at its height, it was as long as six years) the bag can in theory be anyone's, but you'll need to be able to stump up upwards of £8,000, or as much as £6,000 for a second-hand Birkin.