In the early 1970s, the British actress and singer Jane Birkin was rarely photographed without a wicker basket swinging from one arm and a baby (the infant Charlotte Gainsbourg) clasped in the crook of the other.
Flower power was at its zenith and Birkin, star of the film Blow-Up (1966) and sultry singer of ‘Je t’aime… moi non plus‘ (1969) straddled the two key feminine stereotypes of the time: the wide-eyed child of nature and space age femme fatale.
Her personal style was notorious. She wore the shortest of the minis, the most diaphanous dresses and hardly a bra underneath. The wicker basket brought a surprising touch of bucolic charm to such ensembles, even when teamed with gorgeous decadent fur.
Birkin’s playful adoption of the wicker basket was not without its precedent. The basket, dating thousands of years old, was a handbag. However, it was not until the late 18th century that it became a fashion item, preferred by sophisticated parisiennes. The basket’s clear architectural shapes, down-to-earth functionality and rustic materials made it an epitome of simplicity.
By the 1980s, Birkin evolved and development a different kind of style. It was through the decadence and luxury of a bag named after her – the Hermès Birkin bag.