Created by the iconic fashion house and luxury leather-goods manufacturer, Hermès, the Kelly bag was originally made to be a saddle holder. The first prototype, known as the “Haut à courroies,” was designed in 1892 as a simple and utilitarian carryall.
In 1923, Emille Maurice Hermès, President of the brand at the time, redesigned the “Haut à courroies” bag for his wife, Julie. The high-handle satchel was made smaller to fit in a vehicle, but kept large enough to allow riders to carry their saddlery and other tack after a day on horseback. A sharp contrast to the most popular handbags at the time, which were simple, small and flat, the Kelly was structured and boxy. A decade later, the simple and elegant bag was remade yet again to its current design. This new model, the “Sac à dépêche,” was a trapezoid shape enclosed by two leather straps – or “sangles” – and a top handle with an additional strap long enough to carry the bag over the shoulder. The bag stands upright with four studs on the bottom, just like its predecessor, the Birkin.
The new style quickly earned an illustrious reputation when Hollywood starlet and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly wore it as an accessory in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, To Catch a Thief. Kelly captivated fans across the world with her beauty, elegance and style, and in 1977, Hermès officially rechristened the “Sac à dépêche” as the Kelly Bag.
Kelly bags are completely hand made from only the finest materials, taking up to 24 hours to complete and crafted entirely by one artisan from start to finish. Hermès has set a standard for manufacturing that remains unparalleled, even down to the minutest detail. With eight different sizes and a myriad of different leather hides and colors from which to choose, the Kelly is customizable and versatile. Demand is high and quantities are low, which makes the secondary market an extremely common place to purchase them as they can be hard to obtain directly from Hermès. Kelly bags have in the past commanded upwards of $45,000 at sale, making it a truly lust-worthy piece and even collector’s item.
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