The Kelly is one of Hermès’ most sought-after bag, having a waitlist that extends months, sometimes even years before any true Hermès aficionado can lay his/her hands on one. As such, it has become of those bags which you will never ever see displayed out on Hermès’ shelves (and even if you do, you’re likely to spot a ‘Display Only’ sign accompanying it), joining the ranks alongside the Birkin and the Constance, together jokingly known as the ‘unicorn trinity’ of Hermès.
And because it’s so ‘mythical’, here 10 things you didn’t know about the Kelly. But if you already do, no harm having a quick refresher now, right? Enjoy.
#1 Created by Robert Dumas in the 30s, the exclusive bag became popular after being spotted on the Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly in 1956, when she was shot carrying the bag to shield her baby bump from the paparazzi. Eventually, the photo made headlines worldwide and even graced (no pun intended) the cover of Life Magazine. The rest, they say is history, and the bag attained a new name that we have all come to know as the Kelly.
#2 The standard Kelly comes in 7 different sizes ranging from the K15 to the K40, with the more popular ones being the sizes in the middle including the K25, K28 and K32.
#3 Know the difference between the Kelly Sellier versus Kelly Retourne. The former is identified by its sharp boxy edges giving it its structured trapezoid shape, with stitches shown on the outside. The Kelly Retourne, on the other hand, has a relaxed shape, with the piping shown (the bag is essentially sewn and then turned inside out) for a softer, more relaxed look.
#4 The interior of the Kelly is also fully lined in leather, with a zip pocket and pouch slots within for the modern versions. And while most designer bags of today typically come with a canvas lining, Hermès has kept to the tradition of having its K bags lined with leather.
#5 All Kelly bags come with a thin leather strap, while some versions are equipped with a thicker canvas strap known as the Amazone. Today, you can purchase the Amazone straps separately, with seasonal variations in different colours offered from time to time.
#6 You might be familiar with the types of leather (Chevre Mysore, Clemence, Epsom, Togo) a Kelly typically comes in, but once in a while they come in more whimsical materials like Veau Doblis (suede), Picnic (Barenia and wicker) and Crinoline (horsehair woven with linen) amongst many others.
#7 Not to forget, precious exotics like crocodile, lizard and ostrich, which typically start from EUR20,000 and above as seen at Christie’s Auctions. The elusive Himalaya Crocodile Niloticus Kelly28 was sold for a whopping EUR93,750 at Christie’s latest Sacs & Accessoires Auction in 12 December 2017 in Paris.
#8 If you do come across pictures of the Kelly with a horseshoe stamp next to the logo, know that these bags are Special Orders (SO) for clients who are invited to customise and order their Kelly at specific times of the year. This includes choosing different colours on different parts of the bag, as well the mix of materials that can include exotics, and choosing special hardware details that do not come with standard Kelly offerings. While there isn’t a premium price for this service, prices vary between bags and are dependent on the materials chosen as different leathers come in different prices.
#9 The Kelly family of bags also extends to different shapes and variations, and are identified by the iconic turnlock clasp. Some of them include Kelly Cut (a long flat clutch), Kelly Lakis (extra front pockets), Kelly Pochette (a chic tiny pouch), Kelly Relax (also known as the Kelly50) and the Kelly Shoulder (super long top handle). Other limited pieces include the Kelly Doll – the cutest thing ever – that comes with a smiling face, hands and feet.
#10 Hermès’ accessories designer Pierre Hardy created a special Kelly that’s made entirely out of rose gold and diamonds. Well, it’s more of an art piece rather than an actual bag, one that has all the characteristics of the Kelly (with the clochette, padlock, single rounded handle and turnlock clasp), but rendered in rose gold croc scales and 1160 diamonds. Retailing at 1.5 million euros back in 2012, this isn’t your typical bag but it’s still the most expensive Kelly around today.