Haute Today


Hermès Kelly: The Legendary Bag

The Kelly bag was originally designed in 1892 by the legendary craftsman Thierry Hermès. In 1930, it was re-sized to suit the clientele’s need for traveling, known as sac à dépêches. While today, one Hermès scarf is sold every 20 seconds, back then the fashion house had just launched its first accessories in an ultimately successful attempt to widen its profile – having established itself during the previous 100 years as a harness workshop dedicated to serving noblemen.

Vintage Hermès Ad (1939)

For the following two decades, the bag retained its original name until Grace Kelly, the Princess of Monaco was caught in LIFE magazine holding a sac à dépêches in front of her to hide her pregnancy from a crowd of paparazzi.

Rainier III Prince of Monaco and Grace Kelly, LIFE magazine (1956)

Since then the trapezoidal Hermès handbag became known to the world as a Kelly bag and still remains a desirable status symbol today. The axiom ‘simplicity – the root of all genius’ certainly applies to Kelly bags. In the book ‘Zerlegt’ published earlier this year, Swiss journalist, designer and tailor Jeroen van Rooijen shows how he cut up various classic gameness and accessories, including a pink Kelly.

Photo credit: Things Organized Neatly (2011)

The laconic outcome is striking just a few high-quality leather pieces of a simple and classical cut, six metal details and a waxed linen thread and jowls and belly skin are used. The final touch involves the ironing to get a perfectly wrinkle-free surface.

Kelly Facts:

  • Unlike the Birkin bag, only one year waiting list is needed to get one’s hands on a genuine Kelly bag. After six months, you’ll be able to choose the type of leather and the color and the bag.
  • Type of leather varies from silky smooth or textured calfskin to exotic lizard and crocodile skin.
  • Depending on the type of leather and size, the bag costs between 4,000 and 25,000 Euros.
  • From beginning to end a Kelly bag is made by one and the same craftsman in 18 to 25 hours.
  • The bag is then given a number and should there be any faults, it is then returned to the same craftsman.

The selection of materials, colours and finishes is wide enough to fulfill any fashionista’s desires. Just take a look at the video below:

Kelly is adorned by a plethora of famous names including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, the Olsen sisters and even Britney Spears, but the most dedicated of all, of course, is Victoria Beckham with a very impressive collection. Here are just a few of them:

Tricolor Kelly

Kelly Pochette in Purple Suede

Kelly Longue in Gold Swift Leather

With the high demand for the firm’s coveted handbags (“We can only make so many bags,” – says Chief Executive Patrick Thomas) and orders being delayed for several years as the company scours the globe for the right colour of crocodile, you may want to join the waiting list today, so by the time you’re ready for your very own Kelly, it is ready for you too.

by Olga Titarenko

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1 Comment so far
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A special Happy Birthday to my favorite person!

Comment by Connie Lanteigne




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