Some 5000 years ago, small portable receptacles were first used to carry money; over time, these items grew in size to transport additional items, and were created in various styles and designs, resulting in the indispensable accesory now known as the purse or handbag. Over the last 200 years, experimentation in handbag manufacturing has seen iconic designs emerge, from the evening clutch to the casual tote bag. Handbag designers have also tested a wide range of materials for their designs, from the unique use of bakelite in the 1960s to the timeless trend of leather. During the 19th and 20th centuries, a number of luxury brands rose to prominence for their elegant handbags, with their products still being coveted today worldwide; amongst these are French brands Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès. Perhaps one of the most famous and sought-after handbags is the Hermès 'Birkin'; created with actress Jane Birkin in 1984, the handmade bag is known for its notoriously long waiting list and price tag of up to $150,000.
For decades, the legendary brand Hermès has been top of the French luxury industry. Since its formation in 1837, the company offers everything from clothes and handbags to perfumes and jewellery. Barnebys tells the tale about a classical brand in constant development.
In 1896, Louis Vuitton's son, Georges Vuitton, designed the fashion house's interlocking L & V pattern in an attempt to halt counterfeiting of the brand. He created a pattern made of quatrefoils, flowers - based on Japanese Mon design of the late Victorian era - as well as the LV monogram. Since then, the distinctive design has had a few shake-ups by the biggest names in art and design.