The French luxury fashion house Hermes designed what became known as the Birkin bag in 1981.
But Birkin, 70, has told the BBC that if, like her, you fill the bag with “junk… and half the furniture from your house, it’s a very, very heavy bag”.
She said: “Now I fill my pockets like a man, because then you don’t actually have to carry anything.”
Birkin had met the chief executive of Hermes on a flight from Paris to London and told him she was struggling to find the perfect holdall.
He offered to design one and asked if the company could name it after her.
She said she was “flattered to death and said yes, yes, yes”. Suddenly everyone was “wandering around with your handbag”, she added.
The holdall has become the ultimate status symbol. Hugely expensive – costing up to £100,000 – it has a long waiting list and is carried by the rich and famous.
Birkin said the bags have been “useful” over the years because she has sold them and donated the money to the charities she supports, including Amnesty International.
But the bag has also proved controversial. In 2015 she asked Hermes to rename the crocodile Birkin bag after learning of disturbing practices in its production.