In 1956, the Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, graced the cover of Life Magazine and was photographed shielding her baby bump with an Hermès handbag. Upon the release of that photo, the handbag became a worldwide status symbol. Fast forward 60 years later, and the bag has attracted a major cult following worldwide, even before social media.
The Kelly bag was adapted from the company’s 1892 saddle carrier but was redesigned by Robert Dumas in the 1930s. It was only until the royal, who owned dozens of the bags, gave her name to the bag that it truly took off. Today, it’s one of the most exclusive, elite and expensive models on the market. At a Christie’s Hong Kong auction in 2015, a white Himalaya Niloticus crocodile Kelly bag for $152,500. The waiting list for these bags is notoriously long, and Hermès keeps records of how many bags clients purchase.
Over the years, the Kelly bag transformed into various styles. In 1968, the mini Kelly bag was created, yet in 1980, the bag was supersize once again, this time larger than the first edition with a 40-centimeter model. In 1994, a version of the bag was created with softer lines and materials. In 2000, the bag got even bigger with a 50-centimeter option.
Interestingly enough, the bag is still handmade from start to finish by Hermès artisans and uses the same tools and techniques from the 1930s. Like Hermès’ other popular bag, the Birkin, the Kelly bag is equally as difficult to find. If you do, know the investment will span a lifetime–and beyond.