With a quick scroll through Instagram, it’s easy to tell that Cardi B adores her rainbow collection of big-ticket Hermès Birkin bags, which are estimated to be worth millions. A combination of style and investment, the luxury accessory brand typically requires an invitation just to shop. And naturally, the “Money” rapper has become synonymous with the brand’s iconic bag, which is regularly seen dotting — nay, filling — her social media posts.
Birkin bags are undeniably a big deal for Cardi, born Belcalis Almánzar, so much so that her husband Offset goes out of his way to ensure she has one on every special occasion. Now, Cardi’s ensuring the apple won’t fall far from the tree. Recently, ahead of her daughter’s third birthday, Cardi gifted Kulture Kiari a custom rainbow, crystal-encrusted Birkin handbag after she became smitten by an embellished handbag at affordable accessories retailer Claire’s. The Birkin’s design, which sent the internet into a frenzy, was custom-made and featured over 30,000 colorful Swarovski crystals arranged to create a traditional rainbow arch, with clouds on either end.
Cardi apparently spent a whopping $48,000 to commission the standout purse for her toddler, according to Michelle Berk, founder of luxury reseller of rare Hermès bags Privé Porter and mastermind behind the creation. “I admire her dedication. She must have had this birthday present in the works three months ahead of time,” Berk tells Elite Daily, recalling her conversations with Cardi about the design.
Taking roughly six weeks to complete, the laborious customization process involved several steps, including storyboarding, designing, and embellishing as the final step. “First a few sketches/ideas for the targeted concept were made. One of them was later chosen to be painted onto the bag,” says Berk, whose jewel-studded creations comprise an arm of Privé Porter called Moneybags x MB. “The time-consuming part is making sure the detailing is perfect. Depending on the design, it takes my craftswomen 30 to 60 hours to do.” To put that timing in perspective, Berk says the Hermès craftsman can finish the bag itself in about 25+ hours.
This wasn’t the first time Cardi has commissioned couture designs from Privé Porter. “She’s been a client of mine for several years now,” says Berk. “I’d say 95% of the Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags in her collection came from me — certainly the first Birkin and Kelly she ever owned, which were gifted to her by Offset.”
Privé Porter boasts a long list of other celebrity clientele, including stars like Paris Hilton, Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Keyshia Ka’oir, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Trisha Paytas, and Jeffree Star. “Between those names alone, there are over $5 million in sales,” says Berk about the A-list stars who diligently seek out her one-of-a-kind Moneybags designs born from store-fresh Birkin bags. Although, one memorable creation came from a Birkin bag Berk once considered “unsalvageable.”
Confused? Take Paris Hilton’s “biggest splurge” — a rare, hot pink, crystal-embellished Birkin bag that cost her $65,000 — following the infamous 2008 robbery of 20 of her Birkin bags by the real-life “bling ring.” Sure, you’ve likely heard the story, but you may not know that Hilton’s new bag is a Berk creation — one she wasn’t even sure would be possible. “Someone once sent me a 35cm, Rose Tyrien Birkin that was badly damaged on the outside,” she says. “When I told her it was unsalvageable, she bought another and told me to throw it out. I just couldn’t do that, so it sat in the closet for over two years.”
Then, Berk had an “epiphany” and asked one of her craftswoman to cover either side of the bag, thus covering any damage, with clear crystals. The end result was, obviously, one of Berk’s biggest successes. “I was able to offer it to Paris Hilton, who was simply over the moon. She bought it for herself and has used it in every music video, and just said it is her most-prized possession.”
While that might be one of Berk’s more memorable creations, it certainly isn’t the most expensive. That title belongs to a truly mind-boggling bag she designed emulating the famous cabana stripes and palm leaves at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which sold for $95,000. ”I did it on my own, like building a spec house,” says Berk, noting that the bag sold only three hours after posting it on Instagram. “Most of the customized bags I am making now are my own designs. Women just call us right away and put deposits on ones for themselves.”
If “Birkin Bag Bardi” has anything to say about it, Kulture might be the one making those calls sooner than she realizes.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:52 p.m. ET to reflect that Privé Porter sources only new, store-fresh Birkin bags.