The Hermès Birkin is the most iconic and sought-after handbag in the world (even if you don't like it, it'd be hard to argue otherwise), and that means most fashion lovers have already absorbed a lot of information about how it was conceived, how it's made and how hard it is to get one. Below, we've unearthed some fun facts that are likely known only to the most ardent of Hermès lovers.
It all happened because Jane Birkin's husband purposefully ran over her signature basket
The 1981 story of Jane Birkin sitting next to Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on an airplane and all her things falling out of her bag is by now the stuff of well-known fashion legend, but the detail about why she was carrying that bag often gets left out. In 2012, Birkin told the London Telegraph that it was because her husband, Jacques Doillon, had gotten in his car and deliberately run over the woven basket she usually carried two days prior. I guess jerk husbands are good for something after all.
The original Birkin design was sketched on a barf bag
Jane Birkin only uses one of the bags at a time; she's on her fifth
Although the Birkin became a symbol of old school, old money wealth for women who collect them like coins or postage stamps, the woman it was named after has an entirely different view on the bag. Jane uses a single Birkin in a neutral color until it is wrecked; only then does she get a new one and auction the used bag for charity. While in her possession, she decorates the bags with patches, charms and other personalizations to make the bag less formal and "snobbish" (her word) and more in line with her very casual French style.
Hermès gives Jane Birkin a nominal royalty for the use of her name per year, which then goes to charity
A Birkin takes 48 work hours for one artisan to make
Each Hermès artisan has a personal set of tools
The most expensive Birkin ever auctioned cost almost a quarter million dollars.
The name of the elusive "Himalayan" Birkin refers to a color, not an origin
You could probably have figured this one out if you thought through it, but a surprising number of people think the name of the super-rare, extremely covetable Hermès Himalayan Crocodile Birkin is somehow tied to the origin of the crocodiles from which it's made. Crocodiles tend to like warm weather, though, and the Himalayans are, uh, quite cold. Instead, the name refers to the bag's unique colorway; it's said to look something like a snow-topped mountain. Judge the one below for yourself.