Prince, Snoop Dog, Puff Daddy… Jane Birkin. Is it ever really possible to change or retract a name? Probably not.
The British actor/singer wants Hermès to remove her name from the Birkin bag following a PETA investigative report into the farming methods of crocodiles and alligators used in the making of the world’s most luxurious accessory.
But how can Birkin’s name, which is not physically printed on the bags, ever be removed? How can you delete more than 30 years of association with Hermès and its most famous bag, which, like all superstars, simply goes by a single moniker, ‘Birkin’? And how do you erase the emotional attachment to the brand? We all love the idea of how the bag was born. When Birkin was on a flight from Paris to London in 1981, everything fell out of her basket as she tried to stow it. She complained bitterly about the lack of decent travelling bags to the man sitting next to her who happened to be Hermès’ head honcho Jean-Louis Dumas. And the Birkin was born.
So what’s the track record for celebrity disassociation? It didn’t work when Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993 after becoming fed up with his music label, Warner Bros. Ditto, Sean Combs who renounced his nom de plume, Puff Daddy, then P Diddy, then Diddy, then… oh, whatever, you get the gist.
Of course, Jane Birkin is using the iconic status of the bag and her association with it to draw attention to something meaningful – a worthy cause. This can only be applauded. But how exactly does she want us to now refer to it? ‘The bag formerly known as the Birkin’?
Should we now write about said bag, which when made from crocodile or alligator costs upwards of £100,000, as a symbol? An emoticon? *££*bag*extrasmileyface*? There really should be an emoji for status symbol. But what will all the Birkin-toting celebrities say about that? Will they stop wearing them altogether for fear of being thought of as evil crocodile slayers, even if their bags are made of mere pig not croc?
More to the point, what will Jane Birkin wear now? She has complained quite a lot about how heavy the bag formerly known as the Birkin is and apparently owns only one which she has plastered with stickers – irreverent or what?
So will she revert back to the troublesome basket that prompted the birth of the Birkin in the first place?
Yes! Why not? All hail the straw basket! It’s the new bag of the season. The New Birkin.