Get to know the generation that came before them with our guide to the history of the It Bag.
Both the concept of “having it all” and the objects that convey status are constantly in flux. While back in the Roaring Twenties, the flapper might have coveted a strand of pearls and the number of a reliable bootlegger; a mink coat was the one plus ultra of the fifties matron. But since the nineties, the holy grail of the fashionable—and of the luxury industry—has been that elusive arm candy, the It bag, once described in Vogue as “that totemic accessory that announced you were owner of all that was desirable in the world.”
DOB: circa 1935, renamed circa 1956
NAMESAKE: The American-born actress turned Monaco princess, Grace Kelly, who is said to have used it to hide her pregnancy.
LORE: The actress’s love affair with the French house dates to 1954 when she purportedly wore Hermès in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.The house renamed the handbag as the “Kelly,” after the actress used it to cover her pregnancy from photographers.
NAMESAKE: Around 1961, this hobo shoulder bag was renamed Jackie, after the style-setting First Lady who favored it.
BACKSTORY: Originally a unisex schlepper, this bag was relaunched by Tom Ford in 1999, and again as the New Jackie in 2009, by creative director Frida Giannni.
NAMESAKE: Impossibly chic English actress and chanteuse Jane Birkin, who gave up her signature basket for this coveted carryall.
ORIGINS: Birkin reputedly sat next to Hermès exec Jean-Louis Dumason a flight, and conversation turned to her need for a roomy carryall. The result was the Birkin, which has elements of the house’s Haut à Courroies bag, first created around 1900.
NAME: Prada Backpack
DESIGNER: Miuccia Prada
FACTS: Launched in 1984 in an “industrial-weight nylon used for army tents,” according to Vogue, the utile house classic evolved into its best-known form in 1987.
SOUND BITE: “I want always to mix the industrial way of doing things,” Prada told The New Yorker in 1990, “with the patrimonio of the past, with the artisanal tradition.”
NAME: Lady Dior, a.k.a. the Princess Bag
NAMESAKE: Princess Diana
BACKSTORY: The fashion-loving English princess received the canework-stitched (a nod, it is said, to the chairs Dior used in his haute couture salons), charm-adorned bag as a gift from France’s then First Lady, Bernadette Chirac.
NAME: The City
DESIGNER: Nicolas Ghesquière
HISTORY: In June 2000, Ghesquière introduced the First bag, which was followed, eighteen months later, by the City, the much-copied, zippered, top-handled tough-chic bag for which style-setters including Kate Mossand Sienna Miller went wild.
SOUND BITE: “It was a new fresh thing, but it looked like an old, good, friendly thing,” Ghesquière explained to WWD.
DOB: February 1955; reborn in 2005
DESIGNERS: Coco Chanel; Karl Lagerfeld
BACKSTORY: Named after the date of its creation, there is almost as much lore about this quilted, chain-handled, flap bag as there is about its legendary creator. The burgundy lining is said to reference the uniforms Coco wore at her convent school; the zippered inner pocket, it is said, is where Mademoiselle stashed love letters
NAME: The Rocco, FKA Coco
DESIGNER: Alexander Wang
DEBUT: Bag genie Mary-Kate Olsen carried the studded, pebbled leather bag before it was in stores.
This article was originally posted on Vogue
Minor changes have been made by the Quiet Curator editors.