Some 5000 years ago, small portable receptacles were first used to carry money; over time, these items grew in size to transport additional items, and were created in various styles and designs, resulting in the indispensable accesory now known as the purse or handbag. Over the last 200 years, experimentation in handbag manufacturing has seen iconic designs emerge, from the evening clutch to the casual tote bag. Handbag designers have also tested a wide range of materials for their designs, from the unique use of bakelite in the 1960s to the timeless trend of leather. During the 19th and 20th centuries, a number of luxury brands rose to prominence for their elegant handbags, with their products still being coveted today worldwide; amongst these are French brands Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès. Perhaps one of the most famous and sought-after handbags is the Hermès 'Birkin'; created with actress Jane Birkin in 1984, the handmade bag is known for its notoriously long waiting list and price tag of up to $150,000.

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