One day in 1983, Jane Birkin and Jean-Louis Dumas were seated beside each other by chance on Air France flight from Paris to London. Jane, a singer, actress, and busy mom to Kate, Charlotte and baby Lou, and he, Jean-Lumas, a grandson that five years before had taken over the leather goods company founded by his great-grandfather.
Even though it was a short flight, it didn´t take long for the conversation to take off between two sharp-witted seatmates. When Jane dropped her Hermés datebook, scattering a flurry of papers, her gentlemanly neighbor 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 clamor 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 colors, combined with the creativity of Hermés leather creation studio, have led to a wide range of models, keeping this story alive after more than 30 years.