Hermès: 10 Things To Know About The Iconic Kelly Bag



In the realm of designer handbags, few pieces hold as much prestige as Hermès’ very own Kelly. A timeless design born in the 1930s, the coveted bag exudes an aura of elegance and sophistication.

And here are 10 things to know about the Kelly that has graced the arms of celebrities, fashion icons and most of us for decades.

01 - Part of the holy Hermès trinity (along with the Birkin and Constance), this beloved Robert Dumas creation catapulted to fame after it was seen in the arms of the late Princess of Monaco in 1956. A photograph captured her using the top handle bag to shield her baby bump from the paparazzi. After making headlines worldwide, the bag was also named the Kelly in her honour.

02 - While the Kelly comes in various styles today, there are two key formats when it comes to the OG. Firstly, the Kelly Retourne (French for ‘reversed’) is essentially sewn and then flipped inside out. This results in a slightly relaxed shape with distinctive piping on the sides.

The Kelly Sellier, on the other hand, features a structured trapezoid shape, with visible stitches giving its boxy edges extra character.

03 - Another reason the Kelly family of bags is so popular is simple. Because it is available in a wide range of sizes. For the classic Kelly, this starts with the mini size that’s barely about 20 cm across (known as the Mini Kelly or the Kelly 20). This goes up to include the 25, 28, 32, 35 and 40 for both the Kelly Retourne and Kelly Sellier.

04 - But what makes the style extra special is the multiple expressions it comes in. Older iterations include the Kelly Cut (a flat elongated clutch) and Kelly Lakis (extra front zip pockets).

Then there’s the Kelly Pochette (a miniature pouch), Kelly Relax (unstructured body) and Kelly Shoulder (extra long top handle). Those that joined the family more recently include the Kellyado Backpack, Kelly Moove and Kelly Elan, all versatile choices for the everyday.

05 - Of course, Hermès didn’t forget about the gentlemen. It released practical styles such as the Kelly Depeches in both pouch and briefcase formats. The Kelly Messenger and Kelly Voyage with its extra strap loops also starred in recent runway collections.

06 - Other exclusive pieces include the Kelly Doll depicting a playful face with dual hands that cover the front flap. There’s also the newish Kelly Desordre, a deconstructed take on the classic bag, and the Kellywood, which incorporates leather and wood in a beautiful marquetry pattern. Don’t forget precious exotics like croc, lizard and ostrich, along with the 'Touch' which combines exotic elements with leather.

07 - All top-handle Kelly handbags come with an accompanying strap for wearing comfortably over the shoulder or across the body. Classic iterations have a thin leather sling, while others come with the wider Amazone canvas strap. Hermès even offers options such as the Tressage and Sangle so you can personalise your Kelly bags.

08 - You might be familiar with the types of leather such as Chèvre Mysore, Clemence, Epsom and Togo. But the Kelly also comes in other materials that include Veau Doblis, Picnic (Barenia leather and wicker), Crinoline (horsehair and linen) and many more. And yes, a plush Kelly Teddy exists, blending suede and shearling to give that extra special touch.

09 - If you come across photos of Hermès bags with a horseshoe stamp next to the logo, know that these are special orders. In other words, each is an exclusive creation that a client customised. This service extends to the Kelly, where clients get to choose the leather and combination of colours, amongst other elements.

10 - Despite its iconic silhouette, the Kelly is a bag that thrives on reinvention. This design chameleon transforms to suit every mood and occasion. And whether crafted in mini or maxi proportions, the Kelly always retains its essence. As of 2024, the retail price of the Mini Kelly starts from SGD14,000 in Singapore.

For more information, do visit HERMES.com