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Historical handbags and their muses: Why Launer is The Queen's favourite handbag brand

The classic handbags fit for royalty

Becky Donaldson
Becky DonaldsonFeature Director
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Throughout her 70 year reign Launer London handbags have been a constant companion to the Queen amid her countless on-duty engagements. Invariably worn on the crook of her arm, her majesty has stayed loyal to the iconic British brand, exclusively choosing from its various shapes and hues since the 60s. 


The Queen is always spotted carrying her classic Launer black handbag

“The Queen is a style icon and always looks remarkable, we are therefore proud and delighted that she has used Launer bags so prominently for more than 50 years,” Gerald Bodmer, Launer London CEO tells us.


Launer London is the go-to handbag brand for her Majesty

This month, to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Launer has produced The Jubilee Collection. Based on a classic archive design, this storied handbag is now updated with contemporary tweaks such as replacing the original suede inners with a retro-feel fabric - where the Launer name is repeatedly woven all over in tiny lettering.

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Launer has updated the classic bag with modern details for the Queen's jubilee

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The Jubilee bag is limited edition and of collector status

The bag, which also features the brand’s iconic double handles and knotted rope emblem, is available in tangerine, cloud blue, fawn, Monarch purple and ebony black - the shade her Majesty chose when it was originally created in 1972.

jubilee tangerine

The 'Jubilee' is also available in tangerine

Giving the early collection (available now) collector status, until the end of June The Jubilee bag will carry a limited edition leather plaque inside, with a gold foil plaque embossed ‘Jubilee and Platinum Edition’ - thereafter it will simply declare ‘Jubilee’. 

“Her Majesty is a marvellous advocate for British manufacturing and the Platinum Edition Jubilee bag is a fitting celebration of her historic 70-year reign,” Bodmer adds.

Although it is widely felt that no-one is as iconic as the Queen, fashion houses have played out this ultimate compliment to style luminaries for decades. Here we explore historical handbags and their eponymous muses. 

RELATED: The summer handbag collaboration you are about to see all over Instagram

Gucci - The Jackie

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Jackie Kennedy Onassis has been Alessandro Michele's muse in the Jackie bag revival

Originally named the Fifties Constance, this curved half-moon-shaped bag with piston hardware, was renamed when former first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis was photographed holding one up to shield her face from paparazzi. (She had reportedly bought six of the bags on one shopping trip in 1964). Constantly being reinvented throughout the decades the most recent reincarnation was by Gucci’s current creative director Alessandro Michele, who revealed a revived version of the bag during his AW20 menswear show (yes menswear), rechristening it: Jackie 1961.

Hermès - The Kelly and The Birkin

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The Kelly was renamed after becoming the go-to favourite accessory of Grace Kelly

The Kelly dates back to 1852 and was originally developed to hold saddles for equestrians - the HAC. The 30s reinterpretation (the Sac à Dépêches) became a favourite for Grace Kelly, who would use her’s as an impromptu shield to hide her pregnancy from paparazzi (we can see a trend here). Naturally it was quickly renamed in her honour. 

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Grace Kelly is is inspiration behind The Kelly by Hermès

The Birkin is a tote created in 1984 by Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas after being seated next to Jane Birkin on a flight from Paris to London. When the contents fell from the straw bag as she placed it in the overhead locker, Jane explained how much trouble she had finding a leather travel bag. Rumour has it that on said flight the pair proceeded to sketch an early design using an adjacent pencil and sick bag…And so this ritzy bag was born.

Dior - Lady Dior

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Princess Diana carrying her Lady Dior

In 1994 Gianfranco Ferré, Christian Dior’s creative director at the time, designed a distinctive square bag with two rounded top handles. He unofficially named it Chouchou, which means favourite in French. A year later, the then First Lady of France enlisted Gianfranco's help in finding a gift for Princess Diana, who was touching down in Paris to attend the opening of Grand Palais’ exhibition of Cézanne artworks. This architectural bag was chosen and in turn she wore it to the event. On her return to London the princess ordered the said sac in several colour-ways. Of course from then on it officially became the Lady Dior.

Other bags that have taken their moniker from celebrities include, Roger Vivier’s ‘Ines’ (de la Fressange) and ‘Carlalala’ (Bruni), Marc Jacobs' (Jessica) ‘Stam’ and Louis Vuitton’s ‘SC’ (Sofia Coppola). 

Not to forget British luxury leather brand Mulberry, who has named bags after models and celebrities who they have enjoyed close affinities, such as ‘Alexa’ (Chung), (Lana) ‘Del Rey’ and ‘Cara’ (Delevingne).

The Jubilee Collection by Launer London is available now, prices start at £2500,

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