An­tiques: bags of style

A wear­able in­vest­ment

EADT Suffolk - - INSIDE - WORDS: Julie Lu­cas

Ac­cord­ing to the De­sign Mu­seum’s book 50 Bags That Changed The World, the hand­bag is a snap­shot of a woman’s life – com­pan­ion, re­cep­ta­cle of se­crets, a sta­tus ob­ject and means of self-dis­play. It has be­come a key item in fash­ion cul­ture.

Christie’s sold its first bag in 1978, part of Coco Chanel’s col­lec­tion. But the vin­tage and sec­ondary mar­ket for hand­bags re­ally emerged after the re­ces­sion about a decade ago, ac­cord­ing to Rachel Koff­sky, Christie’s hand­bags and ac­ces­sories spe­cial­ist. It was at this time women be­gan see­ing their hand­bags as a se­ri­ous in­vest­ment.

Her­mès is king, says Rachel. “The Kelly bag was de­signed al­most 100 years ago, with vir­tu­ally no change to the model since. Sim­i­larly, the Con­stance was de­signed 50 years ago and the Birkin launched 30 years ago. Th­ese three mod­els are the most de­sir­able be­cause they are the high­est qual­ity hand­bags, ex­pertly crafted in an ate­lier (French work­shop), in a time­less de­sign.”

Last year, Christie’s sold what is con­sid­ered to be the holy grail of bags, a matte white Hi­malaya Birkin bag made from Nile croc­o­dile with an 18-carat white gold

and di­a­mond lock for £292,188, a world record price. A sim­i­lar piece in Lon­don fetched £162,500, the record price for a hand­bag in Europe.

Chanel is an­other cov­eted brand. A Time­less bag de­signed by Karl Lager­feld with its dis­tinc­tive CC clasp fetches pre­mium prices, and a rare run­way piece, a Chanel Paris Bom­bay Ma­tryoshka Doll Min­audière was sold through Christie’s last year for £16,500.

So how is the value cal­cu­lated? “We will usu­ally es­ti­mate the sell­ing price at around a third of the re­tail price,” ex­plains Pru­dence Hop­kins, head of ac­ces­sories at Sworders Fine Art Auc­tion­eers. But there are ex­am­ples where vin­tage hand­bags are now more valu­able than when they were first pur­chased. Cat­walk pieces from Alexan­der McQueen, ex­otic skin Birkins or Chanel’s iconic 2.55s hand­bags (named when the style was in­tro­duced in Fe­bru­ary 1955) pur­chased in the 1980s all com­mand a pre­mium. “Con­di­tion, prove­nance and

orig­i­nal re­ceipts all add to the value of your hand­bag,” she says. She feels peo­ple like the his­tory of clas­sic pieces and newer pieces that would have cost sev­eral thou­sand pounds in a shop many years ago can be found for a frac­tion of the price.

“I think a lot are bought for an in­vest­ment but get light wear,” ex­plains Sarah White from Tennants Auc­tion­eers. “Some

wear is OK, but they want to be in the best con­di­tion pos­si­ble. If there is a card of au­then­tic­ity, then even bet­ter. Check the han­dle is not cracked and check the cor­ners as of­ten they wear.” Sarah be­lieves the rise in pop­u­lar­ity is celebrity driven. “They’re pho­tographed ev­ery­day car­ry­ing the lat­est bag – and peo­ple want a piece of that.” N Sworders are hold­ing an Ob­jects of De­sire sale on Oc­to­ber 3 – see more at sworder.co.uk

‘Con­di­tion, prove­nance and orig­i­nal re­ceipts all add to the value of your hand­bag’

Sworders sold this Cartier Clutch for £2,200

BELOW FROM LEFT: Hi­malaya niloti­cus croc­o­dile di­a­mond Birkin; a Chanel black caviar leather 2.55 dou­ble flap medium hand­bag sold for £1,550

ABOVE: Chanel Paris Bom­bay Ma­tryoshka Doll Min­audière

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