Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Handbag Wednesday: Hermès Kelly

For this week's Handbag Wednesday, I'm featuring another Hermès bag I like to dream about, the Kelly, as well as musing on the future of Hermès.

The chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Bernard Arnault, revealed last month that LVMH has acquired a 20.2% stake in Hermès International, the family-owned luxury house founded by Thierry Hermès in 1837, maker of the Kelly and the Birkin bag, as well as scarves, jewelry, fragrances, and other items. Mr. Arnault said he would not attempt a hostile takeover in the next six months. A French antitrust watchdog group is meeting tomorrow to look over the Hermès family's plan to prevent a takeover by LVMH. There is lots of chatter at the Purse Forum about how an LVMH takeover of Hermès would forever taint the goods and drive up the prices of anything Hermès made before the date of such a takeover.

I like the idea of a leather goods house that's been handed down through the generations and continues to make well-designed, beautifully-crafted goods so I hope the Hermès family can hold onto their company.

I will be watching this story throughout the year to see what happens and will write about it here, so stay tuned!

Back to the bag, I learned in Anna Johnson's book Handbags: The Power of the Purse, that it takes 18 hours to make one Kelly bag and that a single craftsman works on it from start to finish.

The bag was originally known as the Haut à Courroies, was created in 1892, and downsized for daywear in the 1930's. After it was shown on the cover of Life in 1956, with Princess Grace using it to shield her pregnancy, the bag was dedicated to her and renamed the Kelly.

The picture above is from the 2010 Handbags calendar by Workman Publishing. The calendar features a new purse every day and was clearly created for bag addicts like myself.

I hope to add a Kelly to my handbag collection one day, probably vintage! This cream-colored Kelly is from the 1970's. Isn't it divine?


Cloud of Secrets said...

This is fascinating! The thought of paying, like, $10,000+ for a handbag (and having to waitlist years for the privilege) makes me want to scream about the crazy world we live in. But that creamy vanilla version is indeed stunning, and I do admire the idea of old companies that emphasize really exquisite materials and workmanship.

It seems that no one is unassaultable -- even a respected, apparently close-knit old company like Hermes. Perhaps there will be a documentary about the story someday -- this is dramamtic stuff!

I am actually surprised that a Kelly takes only 18 hours to make. I'd be really curious to see a pie chart of how much of the $10K+ price tag is pay for the craftsman, then materials, equipment maintenance, office, boutiques, and workspace, advertising, other personnel, and pure profit based on Hermes cachet.

I'm going to have to check out that Handbags book.

Lady Lipstick said...

Hey girl!! I am so glad to hear my red hair will influence you this year! YAY!!
As for this handbag, ugggg I would be so happy to have it! Actually to have any Hermes bag! LOL


Ginta said...

Have you seen this post - Reading it I finally realized luxury of Hermes.

jill815 said...

Hi Sarah, I missed you over the holidays! Oooh yeah, a documentary is a great idea! I would love it if Matt Tyrnauer, the Vanity Fair writer and the director of the Valentino documentary, did a film about Hermes. It would be enlightening and entertaining for sure.

I don't know if I could actually get myself to buy a Kelly, definitely not new, it is just too much money. Even vintage is not cheap, so I would have to REALLY think about it and get a great deal (not to mention save forever). But that super-structured shape is so my style and I think it is just one of the best designed bags ever. A girl can dream!

There's a great thread on Purse Forum by women who own Kellys/Birkins/extensive Hermes scarf collections and post pictures of these items alongside their "cheap" clothes, like Levi's, Gap, etc. Hilarious! That would be me if I realized my Hermes dreams, a Kelly and a J. Crew t-shirt!

jill815 said...

Hi Lady Lipstick!

I have the January blahs, I think. I know some red in my hair like yours and walking around with this gorgeous Kelly would banish the blahs right away! I can't wait to see your new haircut, btw.

jill815 said...

Hi Ginta, thank you so much for the link to this excellent article about how a Kelly is made! I went on to read the one about the production of Hermes scarves as well. Both are so well-written and detailed and I loved the behind-the-scenes pictures too. Thank you for sharing this!

Paula said...

My first acquaintance with a Kelly bag was on a train in Japan, a couple around 40 was on its way back home after a wedding. They were both tired and almost fell asleep, she had the lime-green Kelly that showed patina with her, the gold stamp almost lost all the gold, but you could still read "Hermes". She was so relaxé, at peace and absolutely stylish. I would love to carry a Kelly bag like that woman did one day!

Jenna said...

I like the shade.