Hermès – a French luxury handbag brand
A Hermès Kelly bag is not just another accessory, it’s actually quite an investment! That is, if you ever decide to part ways with such an iconic handbag once you own one. The Hermès brand is renowned for supreme quality and prestigious products, having introduced both the ‘Birkin 25’ and ‘Kelly 25’ bags – you can’t really mention one without the other.
Hermès Kelly 25 vs the Birkin 25
Both handmade leather bags exude luxury, elegance, sophistication and class, being linked to famous women who were legendary fashion inspirations. Having said that, there are a few significant differences that set the two bags apart. Consequently, you will want to choose the bag that will best suit your own style, so it adds value to your wardrobe and not just your pocket.
From horse saddles to luxury bags
Surprisingly, handbags weren’t Hermès’ first venture. Thierry Hermès, who founded the company in 1837, initially produced harnesses and saddles. Generations later, his son Charles-Émile Hermès switched the family business to women’s holdalls creating the ‘Haut à courroies’, designed to carry a saddle and riding boots. In 1923 Thierry’s grandson, Émile-Maurice Hermès, created the ‘Bugatti’ bag for his wife, naming it after the famous car designer. The Bugatti incorporated a sleek zipper pull, setting a trend that would revolutionize handbag design.
Sac à Dépêches
During the glamorous era of the 1930s Robert Dumas, the son-in-law of Émile Hermès, crafted a travel bag with practical straps, elegant lines and a spacious interior, calling it the ‘Sac à Dépêches’. This pioneering bag would undergo multiple redesigns before eventually being named after the famous American actress and later Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly.
To Catch a Thief
Two decades after its initial creation, Alfred Hitchcock incorporated the leather Sac à Dépêches as a film prop in his romantic thriller To Catch a Thief, starring Grace Kelly. She fell in love with the bag and kept it as part of her own real-life wardrobe. In 1956, after her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, the luxury accessory acquired its own high profile. Dressed in a voluminous skirted dress, wrist-length gloves, with a fur coat draped over her shoulders, Grace carried her favorite bag to conceal her pregnancy from the relentless paparazzi. Thus was the Sac à Dépêches transformed into the namesake ‘Kelly Bag’.
More than just a bag, a Kelly can be a valuable investment to be passed down through the generations. Despite looking similar to a Birkin in appearance, the Kelly is especially associated with the sheer elegance of Grace Kelly’s style, and it remains a star exhibit in the Victoria and Albert Museum. As with all of Hermès’ celebrated bags, the Kelly leaves a rich history, a legacy that will stay with us for decades to come.
- Most classic Kelly bags are made from Calfbox leather and feature gold, rose gold, or palladium accents. Hermès has, however, come out with many different styles and changes over the years, including briefcases and backpacks made from ostrich, wicker, and wood.
- The strap wasn’t part of the original design, being added in the 1980s. The trapezoidal silhouette, triangular gussets, chic cut-out front flap and elegant turn-lock closure have remained unaltered.
- Creating a Kelly bag is a meticulous process, requiring about 20 hours of dedicated craftsmanship. Thirty-six different pieces of leather are bonded together with very fine hand stitches.
- Texas Rose and Cactus are among the most popular shades in a range of exotic colors. There is also a fabulous array of neutral hues to consider, from the elegant Nata to the timeless Black.
The fashion house’s ongoing commitment to quality guarantees that Hermès bags will not only remain fashionable but will also rise in value for years to come. In fact, the company announced earlier this year that it would be opening a series of ‘artisan’ factories to help meet the high demand for its expensive leather bags. It has already opened a new facility in Louviers, Normandy, and anticipates expanding further within four years.
Create your own story with a preloved Kelly
If you’re after that special Kelly bag, perhaps one that’s discontinued or made from a type of leather that Hermès no longer uses, you’ll be wanting to look in the preloved market. Among the rarest are the Kellywood Perspective Cavaliere Kelly 22, showcasing Hermès’ marquetry mastery, and the Hermès Kelly 32 Feather So Black introduced by Jean-Paul Gaultier. But these are stories for another day…