It’s the envy of anyone who’s ever considered attaching another name to its interminable waitlist. The Hermes Birkin handbag, named for the bohemian sixties siren Jane Birkin, has become the more luxurious, exclusive version of Grace Kelly’s Sac à dépêches.
But Birkin’s own Birkin, the one she’s covered in stickers and scars and worry beads from her travels, looks nothing like the must-covet status symbol of today’s screen ingénues, which perhaps is fitting for its newest role. Today, Vogue reports that Birkin will put her own handbag up for auction on eBay to raise money for Red Cross efforts in Japan.
The bag’s origins are fabled. Aboard a flight to Paris, Birkin complained to the late Hermes chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas that she couldn’t find a leather bag she liked, and he created it for her. Since 1984, the bag has evolved into a symbol of wealth and craftsmanship, ranging in price from $7,000 for basic leather styles to customized crocodile and diamond-encrusted masterworks costing well over $100,000.
Today, the eBay bidding for Birkin’s Birkin will start at $2,000 and likely skyrocket from there, despite the weathered condition of the handbag. But if ever there was a time to splurge on a used and haggard leather purse, Jane Birkin’s Birkin, a prized piece of fashion’s history and present, is certainly worth the cost, and more importantly, the cause.