It was 1978. John Travolta’s ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’ became cultural hits, NASA unveiled the first group of women astronauts, the UK had its first test tube baby and San Francisco-based queer artist, Gilbert Baker, designed the Pride rainbow flag representing the LGBTQ+ community.
Pride’s rainbow flag is without a doubt iconic, with its colours splashed out generously on clothes and memorabilia alike during this time of year, as cities world over have been celebrating love, freedom and equality. It is an unforgettable symbol which harmonises numerous colours (and people!) together to make a bold and positive statement.
In the 1970s, the United States possessed a fervent air of revolution.The Stonewall uprising in 1969 involved a violent clash between gay rights activists and the police outside the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. The 5-day riot influenced the gay rights movement to an international level into the 70s.
Gilbert Baker possessed an interest for art and fashion but always felt unable to express this freely, growing up in the conservative state of Kansas. After being drafted into the US army, he hoped to escape from alienation but was subject to more homophobia during his training. Baker experienced his beacon of hope when he became a medic and was stationed in San Francisco, which is considered the world’s ‘gay mecca’. Deciding to stay in San Francisco after completing his miliary service, Baker found that he could openly express himself and was able to thrive following the new gay rights movement post-Stonewall and began using his creativity and artistic talent in politics.
Baker was introduced to Harvey Milk, an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the hitory of Californa. Milk convinced Baker to design a new symbol for the lesbian and gay rights movement and subsequently the iconic rainbow flag was craeted. The original version had eight colours; hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo and violet. Working together with friends, he dyed and sewed the first rainbow flags, which were first unveiled in the United Nations Plaza in June 25, 1978 during the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.
In celebration of Pride, we have compiled a list of our favourite ‘Handbags of Pride’ to symbolise each colour from the original 1978 flag. These are bright, playful pieces that will bring some vibrancy into your closet and hopefully encourage you to think outside the box.
What do the Pride Flag colours mean?
Hot pink symbolised sexuality but was eventually removed from the flag as it was a non-standard colour and proved too difficult and costly to print. Our distinguishable Fuschia Shiny Porosus Diamond Birkin features 10.87ct of brilliant, colourless diamonds. Traditionally, pink is a sweet, delicate colour, but the vibrancy of this bag makes a bold statement.
Red is a bold colour that has numerous meanings, whether it stands for passion, love, danger or power. Baker’s interpretation for the flag meant that red stood for ‘life’. Our Hermes Geranium Mississippiensis Alligator Constance Wallet comes in a scarlet red; a darker red denotes leadership and courage, perhaps a direct correlation to the bravery of the gay rights activists.
Orange symbolises healing. Our Hermes’ Tangerine Leather Kelly is a lively piece crafted in elegant Niloticus Lizard leather. A very classic colour for the Birkin range, orange also traditionally represents warmth and joy, which this bag certainly radiates.
Yellow represents sunlight, a message about being yourself and embracing who you are instead of hiding in the shadows. Its an empowerment colour, promoting confidence and individuality.
Bring some sunshine into your life with our Hermes’ Soufre Epsom Leather Birkin. Epsom leather is durable, lightweight with an embossed grain. Rather than a bright yellow, this is an elegant, softer version which will complement most outfits.
Green embraces nature. Feel at one with nature with our Goyard Green Chevron Hotel Du Parc, an excellent companion for the weekend away. Baker utilised green in the flag to symbolise nature and this multidimensional piece really springs to life with Goyard’s iconic chevron pattern. Need a few more items to squeeze in? This bag is extendable, perfect to fit in all those essential items you can’t bear to go without.
Much like hot pink, turquoise was eventually removed from the rainbow flag as well due to the difficulty in producing this colour. Following the assassination of Harvey Milk, the 1979 Pride Parade Commitee wanted to honour Baker’s version of the flag but removed turquoise so that an equal number of stripes were on either side of the street. Baker’s intended use of turquoise was to represent magic, and our Christian Dior’s Emerald Diorissimo bag certainly represents it. This textured, emerald piece is comprised of ostrich leather with a light grey interior. Emerald, closely representing turquoise, is a fun, playful colour and will serve to be a lighthearted addition to your ensemble.
Indigo represents harmony, and our sleek, Hermes Blue Nuit Leather Constance Wallet is a perfect choice for pulling together any outfit effortlessly. This deep midnight blue is an excellent, versatile bag that will bring an air of cool in any given occasion.
Finally, violet represents spirit - a clear demonstration of what the members of gay rights movement possessed. Our Chanel Purple Quilted 2.55 Double Flap Bag is a splendid and vintage-looking piece, and the quilted texture makes it an undeniable classic. Comprised of jersey fabric and antiqued silver, this is a bag that can double up for both daytime and evening occasions.
Since Baker’s flag’s debut, this has gone on to inspire several other variations for each section of the LGBTQ+ society, further welcoming inclusivity to all. It is a clear symbol of positivity and courage which we fully support at Xupes.
We encourage you to perhaps put your more neutral-toned bags a break for a bit and embrace colour more into your wardrobe. Why not dare to be different?