The Hermes Birkin remains one of the most coveted bags in the world, beloved by celebrities and socialites despite its stratospheric price tag. Deepening its allure is the fact that it remains ever so tantalisingly out-of-reach to most – you won’t see a Birkin on the shelves, and its supposed waiting list is legendary.

Designed by Jean-Louis Dumas for Jane Birkin, it is no mere bag; it is a status symbol. But even status symbols are not all created equal; the French maison’s special releases or limited editions are even rarer, and unsurprisingly, highly sought after by fans and collectors.

1. Birkin 25 One Two Three and Away We Go in White, Black, Bordeaux, Rose Extreme, Blue Sapphire and Lime Swift leather with silver hardware

A whimsical name for a whimsical bag, the ‘One Two Three and Away We Go’ Birkin comes from architect, illustrator and artist Nigel Peake. His second collaboration with Hermes (he also designed a scarf previously) features vividly coloured artwork inspired by the Grande Roue de la Concorde ferris wheel in Paris.

2. Birkin 35 So Black in black box calf BHW with black hardware

This all black Birkin was designed by Jean Paul Gaultier during his tenure at the luxury house, and features a uniquely monochromatic look, due to its also-black PVD-coated hardware. Once an item of controversy (not unlike Gaultier himself), it was pulled from stores not long after release due to concerns about its delicate nature. Today, its rarity has made it a hot ticket item at auctions.

3. Birkin 35 Shadow Bag in Alezan Evercalf

Gone is the hardware on the Shadow Birkin, an understated-yet-bold departure from the bag’s iconic design by Jean Paul Gaultier in 2009. Instead, the details are embossed, creating a trompe-l’œil “shadow” effect. Undeniably sleek and definitely rare, a collector’s dream.

4. Birkin 30 Patchwork Vert Crocodile Bag PHW

Made from six different kinds of leather in four different shades of green, the aptly named Patchwork Birkin is a paragon of the atelier’s mastery of leatherwork. Porosus Crocodile, Chevre, Epsom, Clemence, Evercolor, and Box Calf leather are showcased exquisitely in this rare piece. With a striking Rose Azalee pink interior, this one’s a scene stealer.

5. Birkin 35 Cargo Bag in Goeland canvas and Swift calfskin

The latest iteration of the It bag is also one of its most utilitarian looking. Inspired by military uniforms, it features five additional pockets and a removable cupholder. Supple and lightweight, it is made of canvas embellished with calfskin leather. (Photo unavailable)

This article was first published in The Peak.