Twice is a coincidence, but three times is a trend, so now that we’ve found a fourth Hermes Birkin covered in graffiti, I feel pretty comfortable saying that defiling the iconic handbag with pain, markers and pens is officially a thing. The latest graffiti’d Birkin comes courtesy of street-art duo Mint & Serf, also known as The Mirf, who were commissioned by Jeff Kain to personalize a while leather Birkin that he bought for his wife Lynn Ban (you might be familiar with her jewelry line). That’s hot on the heels of Moda Operandi’s marked-up Birkin, plus self-styled versions by both Lady Gaga and Nicola Formichetti.
Of the four different Birkin-customization techniques we’ve seen, this one is definitely the most clearly graffiti-inspired. Or perhaps “inspired” isn’t the word – it’s straight-up covered in the stuff, and the commissioned work cost several thousand dollars on its own, according to the Daily Mail. In contrast, Moda Operandi’s version is by far the most sophisticated and traditionally beautiful of the customizations, and both Gaga and Formichetti went to town in their own personal ways. The common thread, though, is the Hermes Birkin. No other bag has had art projects performed on it so fervently, and the reason why people love to mark it up is probably similar to why Francesca Eastwood decided to set one on fire last year – there’s something undeniably attractive about the opportunity to subvert an icon.
If you live in or have traveled to a place where Birkins are very commonly carried, you probably know that there’s often a look associated with them – upper-crust women who are prim and put-together, even when headed to a spin class. (Perhaps especially when headed to a spin class.) That image of decorum and privilege, combined with the extravagant price of an Hermes Birkin and its tailored, traditional look, have turned the bag into an easily recognizable totem of profligate wealth, which is currently a fashionable thing to reject. Nominally, anyway – you still have to have that wealth in order to acquire a Birkin to destroy in the first place. Or “customize.” Whichever way you prefer to see it. I’m still not sure which word I’d use.
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