‘I have a passion for metallics,’ says Lucile Andreani, handbags specialist at Christie’s in Paris. ‘This is exactly the type of bag I always hope to find when sourcing pieces for our Paris auctions.’
The metallic bronze chèvre leather Birkin 25 with gold hardware that Andreani is pictured with above will be offered in the Sacs & Accessoires sale at Christie’s in Paris on 12 December. Metallic Hermès bags are particularly sought-after collector’s items, and this one is ‘a vintage treasure’. One of the rarest bags we’re offering in December, it is one of our specialist’s ‘absolute favourites’.
The bag, crafted in 2005, was inspired by the famous window displays designed by Leïla Menchari for the Hermès flagship store at 24, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. Menchari, who began working at Hermès in 1961, oversaw the design and installation of the house’s windows from 1978 to 2013. Her wide-ranging, elaborate set pieces included aluminium horses, mother-of-pearl Moroccan souks and grottoes, and cobwebs made of glistening thread.
All of Menchari’s windows contained co-ordinated Hermès bags: steel Kellys for her Trojan horse windows; pieces in iridescent sea-foam green crocodile for her grotto; fretwork lace Birkins for her Alhambra; metallic leather for her Rococo creations. Produced by Hermès craftsmen in the house’s atelier in Pantin, France, according to Menchari’s exacting requirements, the bags were not available for sale.
Subsequently, though, Hermès did release a range of metallics as part of its Mondore collection. Strictly intended for VIP clients, the line has since been discontinued. This extremely delicate bag from that collection was produced in a strictly limited edition, says Andreani.
To produce the metallic bronze colour — which Andreani describes as ‘very versatile’ — Hermès craftsmen ‘add so much colouring that the resulting texture differs from the usual chèvre material.’
As the market for Birkins in the miniature 25 size has strengthened, and collectors have become more aware of the existence of the rare metallic range, the metallic leather Birkin 25 has become hugely coveted by Hermès lovers. Acquired by a European Hermès collector in 2006 and showing no sign of wear, the value of this Birkin will only increase over time, says Andreani.
‘Prior to this piece, most of the metallic bags I had seen were in the Hermès windows designed by Menchari,’ says the specialist. ‘When I received this little treasure in Paris, I couldn’t believe how stunning the metallic effect is in real life. I was absolutely fascinated by the sophistication of its details. It seems to have been considered a work of art, not an everyday accessory.’