Jennifer Lopez has been called out for a number of style choices over the years – from her infamous plunging Versace gown, to, more recently, her sparkling engagement ring. But it was quite another accessory she was spotted with that had people up in arms this past weekend.
Whilst out with fiancé Alex Rodriguez in New York on Sunday night, JLo toted the Hermès Himalaya Birkin bag–worth $133,000 and made from the skin of the Nile crocodile–and swiftly had animal rights activists in a fury.
In fact, the handbag has long invoked the ire of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who have protested manufacturing practices by Hermès and other big name brands in pursuit of high-end luxury items. They even went so far as to release footage apparently depicting the skinning and sawing open of live reptiles on farms supplying such brands. The incident even prompted English actress Jane Birkin, for whom the Birkin collection is named, to distance herself from the line and ask her name be dropped (she dropped her request after being reassured by Hermès it was an “isolated” incident, and after they vowed to crack down on such practices).
PETA’s Director of International Programs, Mimi Bekhechi roundly condemned JLo’s latest fashion choice, telling WENN, “Jennifer has stooped to a new fashion Lo with this blood-soaked ensemble.” From PETA’s perspective, a high-profile star wearing such a bag no doubt implicitly condones the mistreatment of animals for the sake of fashion – hardly what they’re after.
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Despite the controversy, the Birkin line of bags remain a staple amongst the rich-and-famous jet-set. In fact, the Himalaya edition remains a highly-sought after item, with a vintage piece last year selling for a record-breaking $286,000, making it the priciest bag ever sold at a European auction. The current world record for a bag sold at auction is still held by a Birkin, sold in Hong Kong for a staggering — wait for it — $445,000.
So it seems like no matter how a bag’s made, there’s no compromise for hard-core fashionistas. Which, when you think about the plethora of handbags in the world is kind of a shame, especially given that there are no limits when you’re JLo. As Bekhechi pointedly remarked, her “choice of this ugly, cruelly produced handbag is extra-shameful when you consider that she could have any bag she desired.” Ouch. Harsh words, but let’s hope her future fashion choices are a little more friendly.