They were seated beside each other by chance one day in 1983, on an Air France flight from Paris to London. She was Jane Birkin. Singer, actress, and busy mum to Kate (16), Charlotte (12) and baby Lou, she had recently met Jacques Doillon and made her debut in arthouse cinema. He was Jean-Louis Dumas. Five years before he had taken over the leather goods company founded by his great-grandfather. It was a short flight, but it didn't take long for the conversation to take off between two sharp-witted seatmates. When Jane dropped her Hermès datebook, scattering a flurry of papers, her gentlemanly neighbour came to her aid. Datebooks can never hold all my bits of paper, she huffed. Bags never have enough pockets! At that point he introduced himself. He wasn't sure about the datebook, but he could have her dream bag made for her in his workshops. She explained what she wanted. He took notes and stepped off the plane with a preliminary sketch. They met up in the workshop, where his team took care of the rest.
The final bag was so spacious, sturdy, and convenient to use that thousands of women would clamour to get their hands on the same one. There was no question about what to call it. The original model has since been auctioned off in a fundraiser for earthquake victims in Taiwan. As Jane herself observes, in New York the Birkin is now more famous than she is. A variety of leathers and colours, combined with the creativity of our leather creation studio, have led to a wide range of models, keeping this story alive after more than 30 years.
A Birkin is a rare and precious thing. It is for sale only in our shops, since, to select the right one for you, you have to see it, smell it, touch it, or order it from an informed salesperson.