Do you have a Kelly? The Hermes Kelly handbag remains one of the ultimate symbols of elegance and luxury.
The bag is a trapezium made with three layers of leather, four feet on the bottom, closed with two straps, and locked with a padlock. A Kelly bag requires 18 to 25 hours to make and is crafted by hand by a single artisan. It is sold in eight sizes, ranging from 15 centimetres (5.9 inches) to 50 centimetres (20 inches) and in an array of leather and colours.
- 1892 The first prototype was made. It was a large bag with a high handle used for holding a saddle. Called Haut à courroies.
- 1923 Émile-Maurice Hermès and Ettore Bugatti (founder of the Bugatti automobile manufacturer) designed a simple bag for Hermès’s wife, Julie. It was meant for transporting saddles by automobile. The handbags of the time were small and flat, and resembled an envelope.
- 1930s Hermès’s son-in-law, Robert Dumas, redesigned it as a travel bag called Sac à dépêches.
The Hermes Kelly was made popular in the 1950s by HRH Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco.
Alfred Hitchcock has been credited with bringing the handbag into the limelight. In 1954, Hitchcock allowed the costume designer Edith Head to purchase Hermès accessories for the film To Catch a Thief, starring Grace Kelly. According to Head, Kelly “fell in love” with the bag. Within months of her 1956 marriage to Prince Rainier III, the pregnant Princess of Monaco was photographed using the handbag to shield her growing belly from the paparazzi. That photograph was featured in Life magazine.
The shot created a frenzy and the public began to refer to it as The Kelly Bag. Here is her actual bag (well-used, we note, as Grace was obviously not afraid to use it — as it should be).
In 1977 the bag was officially renamed in tribute to the Princess.
There was also a GUCCI Kelly handbag named after Grace Kelly. It featured a box shape with single top handle, and this satchel style was a staple for the brand and could be made to order.
Gucci was founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence in 1921. A purveyor of leather goods, his shop gained a reputation for quality and fine craftsmanship. Influenced by the popularity of horse racing in the 1930’s, Gucci began incorporating equestrian motifs—horse bits and stirrups—into the design of the hardware. The iconic loafer shoe was introduced in 1932, and the Bamboo Bag made its debut in 1947. Both of which are company mainstays.
Since the current creative director, Alessandro Michele, was appointed in January 2015, the brand has experienced a resurgence in popularity.
The fashion press has fallen for his quirky, retro- and Renaissance- inspired designs:
and the Fall collection of Gucci handbags is being snapped up by the fashion set and showing up in gorgeous iterations on the stylish streets and on Instagram.
Gucci got my attention, too. Alas, I had no double Gs in my closet. Gucci’s current Kelly is the Padlock Signature Top Handle with the key lock closure detailing “pulled straight from the archives”. The bag retails for $2,690 (USD).
Converting US dollars into Canadian dollars is not a happy-making enterprise ($3,435 CD), so instead of adding a piece from the current vintage-inspired line, I went for actual vintage. I found a classic GUCCI KELLY on Ebay.
The structured bag is in white leather with gold hardware.
The interior is lined in white leather, and it has a detachable strap.
It also came with a monogrammed round mirror in a leather case.
Perfect for reapplying your lipstick after lunch.
Being without tassels, fringes, charms, twillies, monograms, studs, or glaring logos, it suits my classic, minimal aesthetic It’s a Kelly; it’s just not that Kelly.
Even so, it has a certain style. A certain Grace.