Friday, August 11, 2006

The Kelly Bag

This story ran on nwitimes.com on Thursday, August 10, 2006 12:33 AM CDT

Can you tell an Hermes bag from a copy? BY SABRINA TURNER

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Hermes purse known as the Kelly bag. The Kelly is the most coveted vintage fashion accessory in the world.

Based in Paris, Hermes gained more publicity when Oprah was denied an after-hours visit to the Paris boutique. Hermes has been around since 1837, originally producing high-quality saddlebags and other equestrian gear for the European jet set.

What makes an Hermes bag special?

Supply and demand.

Only a limited number of purses are produced. Each handbag is entirely handmade from start to finish, by one of 150 craftsmen. Purses are produced using only the finest leathers available. Vintage Kelly may be found in buttery smooth leather or crocodile. The Kelly has a flap closure with an engraved polished gold buckle.

Instant social status.

The Kelly bag became popular in 1956, when Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly), was spotted carrying her Hermes purse. A photograph was published in Life magazine, and the purse became an instant hit. Hermes nicknamed the purse "The Kelly Bag."

Similar styles were produced in the late '50s and '60s. Many of these are quite collectible as well. Resale prices can range from $400 to $1,200.

An authentic Kelly can be easily identified.

1. Examine the stitching, the seam will be tilted, sewn on an angle. If there is a straight seam consider the item a copy.

2. The Hermes company is known to use a series of embossed markings inside the handbags. You won't see a metal nameplate.

3. Turn the purse over, look for four gold feet to protect the bottom from wear.

4. Any hardware will have engraved the Hermes-Paris logo on it.

This classic purse is definitely worth the investment. A vintage Kelly is valued from $5,000 plus.

Good luck. Or as the French say, bonne chance!

The opinions expressed solely are those of the writer. Sabrina Turner is a dealer in vintage items, including clothing and accessories.


Maybe you can't afford the Hermes version of the Kelly Bag, but you can afford the look, like this classic 60's version from VFG member Couture Allure. The style was and is still is very popular. Classic, elegant and functional.

Check out this weeks VFG Picks for more Kelly bags from your favorite sellers!

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