Hermes typically brings to mind sophistication and luxury, as well as images of horses clad in fine leather and women clad in fine cashmere and silk. But Hermes has courted the other side of society for a long time. The eponymous Birkin bag wasn’t designed for a demure debutant but rather a sexy swinging sixties brit whose joie de vivre and je ne sais quoi fit in perfectly with the casually luxurious lifestyle Hermes clients often seek. Here we’re looking at a few of Hermes’ most rebellious moments, when Punk took over.
So Black Collection
Jean-Paul Gaultier’s final collection for Hermes included what have now become some of the most sought after bags in the world. The So Black collection featured all black hardware and branding, but went further to black out all the accessories as well, dustbags, booklets, ribbons, everything was black. This collection has a predecessor in the 2000 release of the Black Chamonix Millenium Moonlight Kelly with Ruthenium hardware, but the bad-ass-ness off JPG’s So Blacks puts them a step above.Another bag that walked Gaultier’s runway but seemingly never made it into production was a black retourne Kelly adorned with tiny studs. The feet were replaced with Medor studs and an extra Chain d’Ancre strap was added.
Jun Takahashi of Undercover 2006 Spiked Kelly
Hermes has a history of working with artists, and one unique collaboration in 2006 saw Jun Takahashi of Japanese brand Undercover transform a vintage Black Box Kelly with a frame of long spikes. Ringing the bag’s base, gussets and handle, the spikes continue along a custom strap and give this Kelly an unmatched demeanor that says “don’t f*ing mess with me.” The bag is currently part of the Hermes collection and has been seen traveling with the Leather Forever exhibit.
The Rock Birkin
First appearing as a HAC on the recent men’s runway, Hermes’ Rock Birkin has been teased in a 25cm size that has collectors amped up! Inspired by the designs of a leather biker jacket, The Rock Birkin appears bade of Black Barenia leather with exterior pockets on the front and back and a chaine d’ancre for added tough-ness.
Speaking of Black Barenia, this color/leather combo is likely Hermes' most punk. The supple smooth and oh-so rich texture of Barenia is given leave to get wild in Black, where scratches, scuffs and stains only seem to add to its shadowy intensity. Rarely seen on the secondary market today, vintage Black Barenia Birkins are quickly snapped up by collectors looking for a bag that can take anything the world can throw at it and then some.
Customized Art Bags
To up the wow-factor in their collections, many Hermes lovers are having their bags customized by artists for a unique personal look. Celebrities have been punk-ifying their Birkins for years, like when Lady Gaga debuted her personally spiked and sharpied Birkins in 2010.