The Modern Icon: Gabriela Hearst's Nina bag

Carried by the likes of Meghan Markle, Amal Clooney, and Angelina Jolie, this bag is a celebrity-approved investment.

Harper's Bazaar India

There are few handbags special enough to catch the eye of both A-list celebrities and members of the British royal family, but Gabriela Hearst's Nina bag has done just this. Favoured by everyone from Amal Clooney to the Duchess of Sussex, the elegant style is rapidly growing in popularity, and not just with celebrities; in fact, we think the accessory makes a truly great investment piece worthy of your forever wardrobe.

The unique style is made up of a distinctive round pouch with a structured handle—it comes in various colourways, in everything from nappa leather and cashmere boucle, to crocodile and crochet, as well as block colours and prints, and works great both as an evening bag and a day-to-day accessory.

The story behind the bag 

The Nina was actually the very first bag to be introduced at Gabriela Hearst, a New York-based label known for its sustainability credentials and its investable classics. The style was named after artist and activist Nina Simone, and was released in 2016.

In the interest of maintaining the brand values of sustainability, Hearst chose to limit production of the handbag, rather than use more raw materials than were necessary—and this continues to this day. The Nina bag is always produced in limited quantities, and is available by special order only, making each Nina even more special and unique; you will only share your particular style with a few others.

"Back in November, I was in the elevator at Claridge's and saw this guy staring at my purse," Hearst told us about a particular version of the Nina. "He asked me who made it, so I told him that it was mine but just a prototype. He said, 'If you make more, I would like one,' and handed me his card. It was Jony Ive, Apple's chief design officer." In the end, Hearst made only 25 of that particular style—one of which went to Ive.

This approach means that there are often unique and exciting new colourways to invest in, ones which you know won't be seen on the arm of everyone else you know.

Who has carried it? 

As mentioned, the Nina is a big favourite with celebrities, and some stars even own the bag in more than one colourway.

This is the case for Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, who has carried the Nina on three different occasions. She was seen with the green version during an engagement in Sussex back in 2018, a style she also carried for her final official royal engagement, a Commonwealth service in 2020. She also has a larger version of the Nina in brown leather, which she wore with a colourful ensemble during a trip to Liverpool in 2019.

And Meghan is in good company with her love of the Nina; Anne Hathaway, Dakota Fanning, Angelina Jolie, Brie Larson, Jessica Alba, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Leslie Mann, and Danai Gurira have also all been spotted with the handbag.

Where to shop? 

You can specially order your very own Nina bag by shopping through the Gabriela Hearst website, or heading into the brand's store on Brook Street in Central London.

Although this is usually the only way to get your hands on a style, the brand has partnered up with Selfridges this month on a pop-up which will allow consumers to shop limited-edition colourways of the Nina (as well as other styles from the Gabriela Hearst handbag collection).

And, of course, you can invest in a pre-loved style of the Nina on the likes of Vestiaire, 1st Dibs and various other luxury resale sites. Shop some of our favourite styles above.

This article first appeared in Harper's Bazaar UK in May 2023.