It is probably the most famous handbag in the world. Designed by Robert Dumas in the 1930’s, the Kelly was unlike any other bag. It was first called “sac a courroie pour dames”, meaning bag with straps for ladies. The bag was not an immediate best seller, but nonetheless, remained in the Hermes collection. It wasn’t until 1956 that the bag, with the help of a princess and a pregnancy, was propelled toward its iconic stature.
It seemed that no one could get enough Grace Kelly. An award winning film and stage actress, Grace Kelly was to many a shining example of all that was 1950’s Hollywood glamour. Talented, poised, graceful and breathtakingly beautiful, Grace Kelly enchanted audiences and individuals everywhere. In 1956, news of Grace Kelly’s engagement to Prince Rainier III of Monaco was a sensation. The press heralded the union as the “The Wedding of the Century.”
Not long after the wedding, the newly married Princess, not yet wishing to announce her pregnancy to the world, used one of her two favorite Hermes bags to shield her pregnancy from the prying eyes of the press. Photographs of her covering her pregnancy with her Hermes handbag were splashed all over the world and made it onto the cover of Life magazine. Such was Grace Kelly’s influence at the time that henceforth, her essential accessory became known as the “Kelly” bag. It was renamed the Kelly by fashionistas, but only officially renamed 21 years later and has enjoyed an iconic status ever since.
The Hermes Kelly Handbag is crafted entirely by hand in several different sizes, leathers and colors.
The most popular of the Kelly sizes are the 28cm, 32cm and the 35cm. The bag is also produced in a 20cm (mini), 25cm and 40cm size.
Prices for these bags at an Hermes Boutique range in price from approximately $6900-$9500 USD, depending on the size and leather. Exotic skin Kelly’s range in price from approximately $17,000-$30,000.
The Kelly bag is either going to be crafted with outside stitching, know as Sellier which generally created a more structured bag (left) or with inside stitching, known as Retourne which results in a more relaxed looking bag.
All of the bags, except the smallest, come with a removable shoulder strap as well as a lock and keys, stored in none other than a Clochette.
Kelly’s are available in several different leathers (see our leather page), each of which is produced in an assortment of colors. Both leathers and colors are added and dropped from the Hermes collection from time to time, though there are leathers and colors which have been in the line since its inception.