Iconic Bags

Most iconic it bags

The It bag, or an iconic, classic handbag has never gone out of style. From Audrey Hepburn toting her Speedy en route to the airport or Grace Kelly and her namesake Hermes bag, women have always lusted about beautiful bags, elevated to star status by their famous owners. The It bag phenomena of the late 1990s and early 2000s saw us lust after a crop of eye-wateringly expensive bags known only by name – the Paddington, Baguette, the Roxanne (RIP) – and after this, some critics decreed the it bag was over.

But the last decade has proved our appeal for an iconic handbag will never wane, with Fendi re-issuing their Baguette and a book about the bag, Prada re-releasing some of their most famous bag designs, and brands like Mulberry proving there’s still an appetite for a must-have accessory. So in honour of the It bag and its reign, we’ve picked our favourite iconic designs from fashion history, some still available to invest in – or dream about, at least.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Prada Bowling Bag

    Prada have had many an iconic It bag over the years – so much so that they are re-issuing some of their most famous designs to celebrate the current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. But the bowling bag of spring/summer 2000 is probably one of their most famous. An instant cult hit, it sold out instantly worldwide, and Prada stores had to open long waiting lists for customers.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Luella Gisele

    Launched during It Bag hysteria in 2002, Luella Bartley’s Gisele bag was a collaboration with Mulberry, and followed the idea Hermes and Gucci had in the 1960s, of naming bags after famous, stylish women. Originally launched in tan leather and with equestrian-style leather straps and a cute heart charm, the bag gave both Luella and Mulberry a boost, and after being seen on the arm of Kate Moss, Reese Witherspoon, Sienna Miller, and Keira Knightley, became a huge hit.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Mulberry Bayswater

    Brit label Mulberry also has an impressive history of It Bags (including the Roxanne, R.I.P). But the Bayswater is arguably the brand’s most iconic. It was a classic from its launch (shortly after Luella Bartley’s Giselle bag) in 2002. As Mulberry’s Creative Director Emma Hill said “I have a Bayswater, my son’s grandmother has a Bayswater, Kate Moss has a Bayswater”.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Fendi Baguette

    “I was asked, among other things, to come up with a particularly easy and functional handbag. In a certain sense, it had to be technological and minimal, just like the times. My response (fortunately I am indomitably disobedient) was the Baguette.” Silvia Venturini Fendi, the creator of the Baguette.

    Designed to be carried under the arm like the French loaf it’s named after, the Baguette was launched in 1997 and quickly became the bag of the moment with a regular starring role on Sex and the City and over 700 different styles produced since launch. Happily for Fendi fans, the brand are reissuing the Baguette bag for a limited run in six of its most popular designs, to coincide with the launch of a new book Fendi Baguette.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Mulberry Alexa

    Unleashed onto an adoring public in January 2010, the Alexa was Mulberry’s tribute to it-girl Alexa Chung. Creative Director Emma Hill was inspired by seeing Alexa carrying a classic Mulberry men’s briefcase in a magazine, and thought it would be “a nice thing to do”. Mulberry have had a tradition of naming bags after girls (see the now defunct Roxanne, and the Del Rey), but choosing style icon Alexa as a bag’s namesake was a stroke of marketing genius. The bag was so popular Mulberry’s profits have quadrupled in a recession, and the satchel design spawned hundreds of high street (and designer) copies.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Bottega Venetta woven bag

    Bottega Veneta designer Tomas Maier may have once called the It Bag “totally marketed bulls***”, but there’s no denying his house’s woven designs are iconic. The criss cross, plaited effect is created using Intrecciato, a technique invented by Bottega Veneta in the 1960s to make the thin leather used in the workshops stronger and more durable for accessories. Today, most of Bottega Veneta’s bags feature a take on the Intrecciato weave.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Anya Hindmarch ‘I am not a plastic bag’

    They don’t call Anya Hindmarch the ‘bag queen’ for nothing. After gaining recognition with her “Be a Bag” designs (where personal photos are printed on to a luxury tote), Anya shot to fame for her “I’m Not A Plastic Bag” – a simple cloth tote with an eco-friendly message, that became the bag of the season in Spring 2007. Sold in Sainsbury’s for a mere £5, the bags were produced in conjunction with We Are What We Do, a non-profit campaign group that aims to reduce the amount of plastic carrier bags. Only 20,000 were made, leading to huge queues outside the Anya Hindmarch store and bags selling for up to £200 on ebay. In the US, Whole Foods Market stocked the bag and sold out within hours, leading them to announce they would no longer offer disposable plastic bags in all of its stores.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Givenchy Antigona

    Introduced in the AW10 Ready-To-Wear collection (and named after the three-act Italian opera by the composer Tommaso Traetta), Givenchy’s Antigona bag may set you back a few thousand pounds, but the classic design and multiple updates have seen it on the arm of editors and A-Listers everywhere from Beyonce to Naomi Watts.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Balenciaga Lariat

    Produced in 2001, this motorcyle-inspired bag almost never saw the light of day because the Balenciaga bosses thought it was not “rigid enough”. But its prototype was a hit with models – including Kate Moss – and thanks to the doggedness of Balenciaga creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere, a small batch of the bags were made and “seeded out” to key trendsetters. The bag’s soft leather and battered tassels lent itself perfectly to the casual model-off-duty look.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Mulberry Del Rey

    The Del Rey is Mulberry’s latest It-Bag-in-waiting, named after singer and internet singing sensation Lana Del Rey. The bag, shaped a bit like a Doctor’s holdall has only just launched in stores, but is already a hit – the brand’s Bond Street flagship store sold out of the deer brown version in one day. Naturally, Del Rey has been snapped carrying the bag, saying “I love the design, a perfect mix between old school Hollywood and contemporary style. It’s an honour that such a classic and prestigious brand would name a bag after me”.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Gucci Jackie

    Gucci renamed its Fifties Constance bag after Jackie Onassis was repeatedly photographed with the bag through the Sixties and female customers rushed to copy the style icon. The New Jackie, a modern “deconstructed” reinterpretation of the design was launched in 2009, which still takes a minimum of seven hours, and up to 13 hours to make depending on the materials used.

  • The handbag icon’s: Hermes Constance

    A favorite of Jackie Kennedy Onasis, the miniature Constance bag made its debut in 1959 – and was reportedly named after the bag designer’s child, born on the day the bag hit the shops.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Lulu Guinness lips clutch

    This fun lips clutch was inspired by designer Lulu Guinness’s “painted red lips, pop art and Dalí’s surrealism”. The original clutch came in red snakeskin, but the design has proved so popular on and off the red carpet that the lips now come in a multitude of designs: including a Union Jack for the Jubilee.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Gucci Bamboo

    Developed in a Gucci backroom in Florence in 1947, at the time, the bamboo-handle on this iconic bag was actually a way to think around war-time shortages rather than a design quirk. But over the decades, the Bamboo became synonymous with the house of Gucci, with bamboo prints featuring on scarves, and bamboo used in every accessory from watch straps to jewellery. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the bag was worn by countless stars (Liz Taylor was a fan) – today the ‘New Bamboo’ is just as popular with everyone from Florence Welch to Carla Bruni Sarkozy.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: Hermes Kelly

    The Kelly was made in the Thirties but became famous in 1956 when a pregnant Princess Grace Kelly used different versions of the bag to cover hide her expanding stomach in a bid to hide her condition from the press. It takes around 18 hours to make a single Kelly bag, and it’s a favourite of many celebrities past and present, including Victoria Beckham, who has a huge collection of Birkins and Kellys.

  • Most Iconic It Bags: McQueen Novak

    Inspired by Kim Novak in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, the Novak was McQueen’s first venture into bags – and became an instant classic when it launched in 2005.

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