Art of combining innovation, elegance and buzz

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Art of combining innovation, elegance and buzz

Monogrammed Vernis. Birkin. Baguette. Kelly or Jackie?
Can you follow the language of fashion? These are the names of some of the bags that are most in demand by fashionistas around the world.
The public’s fascination with these bags has practically redefined the meaning of style.
Can you look “fashionably correct” by simply toting the right bag? The popularity of these bags would seem to indicate so.
Try finding a Jackie bag. They’re completely sold out, according to a Gucci Korea representative. Not a single Jackie remains in Gucci shops.
Did you say you were looking for a genuine Kelly or Birkin bag? Good luck. Even with a stack of cash you can’t find them in any Hermes store ― anywhere in the world. A frustrated shopper paid more than 10 million won ($8,230), nearly double the list price, for a black-market model.
Monogrammed Vernis in sweet colors ― baby blue, cherry pink or lavender ― top many a shopper’s dream list. And, practically everyone who claims to be fashionable owns Fendi’s phenomenally popular Baguette, though not every Baguette is real.
What created this fascination with bags? The popularity of the Jackie, Kelly and Birkin bags has to do with their vintage glamour, recalling legendary beauties of the not-so-distant past.
The Jackie bag, otherwise known as the Black Line bag, was introduced by Ingrid Bergman in the Roberto Rossellini film “Europa 51” in 1952. In the film, Ms. Bergman carried a crocodile-skin version. Later, the bag was adorned with Gucci logos, made with canvas and trimmed with calfskin or suede.
When the paparazzi captured Jacqueline Kennedy clutching the bag in the 1960s, it instantly became the ultimate accessory for chic women ― and has been Gucci’s best seller ever since.
Hermes’s Kelly bag was originally a haute a courroies, a much bigger bag designed to carry a saddle. It became known as the Kelly bag after Life magazine published a photo of Grace Kelly carrying a small red crocodile version of the bag in 1956, the same year she married Prince Rainier and became the princess of Monaco. The image of the radiantly beautiful Ms. Kelly and her favorite bag turned it into an overnight classic.
The Birkin bag was named after the British actress Jane Birkin. Robert Dumas, the former owner of Hermes, sat next to Ms. Birkin on an airplane in 1984 and noted how much difficulty she was having organizing her belongings in a large tote bag. Mr. Dumas then designed a sturdy, classically styled bag for her.
History and traditional styling are elements that are embraced by many fashion fanatics. That is part of the appeal of Louis Vuitton, the well-known French luggage company that was founded in Paris in 1854. Now five generations old, Louis Vuitton has built a reputation for superior craftsmanship and styling that combine tradition and modernity. Its bags have been favorites among celebrities, explorers and cultural icons.
The fervor over Louis Vuitton continues with the new lines introduced by the firm’s creative director, Mark Jacobs. The traditional LV gold-on-brown pattern has given way to bright, light-colored accessory bags, including the Vernis and Murakami bags, reflecting contemporary tastes.
A few years ago, Fendi, the Italian fashion house that specialized in furs and leather goods, designed a new handbag that didn’t relate to beauty, legends or traditions.
When the small bag, called the Baguette, was introduced in 1997, Fendi’s fashion status skyrocketed. The soft, rectangular bag reminded people of a tiny loaf of French bread ― hence the name ―and it became a staple among the fashion elite.
Perhaps it was the simple, feminine, functional design that made it phenomenally popular. With its short strap and small size that made it easy to tuck under the shoulder, it became a daily fashion accessory.
For the casual look, there was a baguette in denim or embossed with double “F” logo. For elegant evening wear, the baguette came adorned with crystal beads, leopard skin or ostrich feathers. For collectors, there was a limited-edition baguette with applique, patchwork or ethnic embroidery.
Today, some 350,000 Fendi Baguettes in 600 styles have been sold worldwide ― not counting the knockoffs that can be found on street corners and at open-air markets anywhere from Seoul to Sao Paulo.

by Ines Cho
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