The Kelly

The Kelly (circa 1930) was already old when fame came calling, but think of all the first-class firsts that have studded its glittering career since then!  It was the first bodyguard of the future Princess Caroline of Monaco when her mother, the film star Grace Kelly, held it up like a shield to protect from the paparazzi the child to be born in a few months' time.  The photo was shown on the cover of Life magazine and seen around the world.  The bag had found itself a name and became a craze.   And so it was by the name of Kelly that this bag was posed, again by Life, in the company of the very young and still obscure Catherine Deneuve and her sister.  The actress had bought it with the money from her first film, and this was her first official photo below. 

(info: it takes about 13 hours and 2,600 hand stitches to make a Kelly bag today).  A specially commissioned Kelly bag of alligator skin sold for about $30,000 in the late 1990's.


Grace 'Kelly'"

The Birkin

30cm navy Togo leather Birkin, palladium hardware- my favourite size!

They happened to be sitting side by side on a flight to London from Paris, one day in 1983. The crossing was short but the conversation lively, the minds alert.  Jane Birkin dropped her Hermès diary, which in turn spilled a spreading wad of papers.  Her neighbour, a gentleman, helped pick them up.  "No diary is big enough to hold all my papers, she grumbled, bags never have enough pockets!"  He introduced himself: Jean Louis Dumas.  And with that the director of the house undertook, if not to revolutionise his diaries, then at least to have his workshops make the bag of her dreams.  Quickly he sketched out a design and carefully kept the piece of paper.  They met again.  The bag was so roomy, strong and convenient that very soon thousands of women wanted "the same".  Its name? As if you don't know!  As the eponymous actress and singer would later say in New York, The Birkin is now more famous than she is!

Birkin's standard sizes are 30cm, 35cm, & 40cm but can be custom made to order in any size and any skin through Hermès retail stores in most major cities around the world. 

The Constance

Camel Constance. Introduced in 1969

The Name, a self-fulling prophecy, is due to a rare and blessed co-incidence in the life of its designer Catherine Chaillet, who also happens to draw cartoons for French television.  Her daughter, Constance - later became a witty and incisive journalist and literary critic - was born in the same year as this bag; 1969, no less.  Its articulated, H-shaped fastener combines symbolism and imagination with essential function.  It's clever adjustable strap means that it can be carried or slung over the shoulder, worn over the arm or hanging by one's side, for going to the gym or out on the town.  It is no surprise to see that it has aged so gracefully and inspired such, well constancy on the part of the public! A true blue as they say!

The Plume

Cool blue!

Simple and smooth on the outside, but inside delicacy, patience and consideration are required to discover its hidden depths.  Its form was inspired by a blanket-holder used by travellers in the 1920s. As one of Hermès' first bags in soft, unlined leather, it has earned itself a light and airy name (but it is no featherbrain). Its birthing was a loving embrace between craftsman and material.    

The Lindy

Lindy in cream, comes in an array of fab colours.

This is what can happen when a practically-minded man kindly sets out to simplify everyday life for the ladies.  Designer Frederic Vidal had observed that a normal handbag forces its bearer to stick her arm out in order to keep it parallel to the body.  What about moving the handles, he thought, and attaching them to the smaller sides? (love that idea), as a result the bag folds in on itself, in gracious, supple curves.  It reconfigures, it nestles.  A new take on the swivel clasp, and there you have it: to open the Lindy, one delicately takes hold of the "Hermès-Paris" saddle rivet with thumb and index-finger. A perfect symbol of the brand's appropriation by its admirers, the Lindy combines the simplicity of a basket with the elegance of a leather bag. In only a few years it has become one of the house's most spectacular success stories.  And deservedly so, I feel. 

The Jypsière

This is a creation from a house that never rests on its laurels but is always looking for exciting new things to do with bags.  The irrepressible Jean-Paul Gaultier had already been artistic director of Hermès Women's ready-to-wear for several years when he decided that, to complement his autumn 2008 show, he needed a bag that would speak of nature, hunting, fishing and - this being Gaultier - tradition turned topsy-turvy.  The body, side straps, swivel clasps and brackets from the Birkin were all adapted to make a jumbo game bag.  The plentiful inside pockets, including a phone compartment, promise - and can contain - all kinds of booty, catches and munitions.  Me I prefer just the regular things like purse, lipstick and diary!

A Collection of Jypsière Bags
Love the green Jypsière!
A one off that paid off! Star Bags: Passe-Guide handbags representing England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales at Leather Forever Exhibit London - all 4 bags were handmade using special techniques in the Hermès workshops in Paris. All the proceeds from the sale of these at Auction were donated to The Royal Academy of Arts.
One of the Star Bags beautifully presented, each had an individual theatre to themselves and complete with velvet curtain. Passe Guide handbag, Hermes Exhibit, RCA London.

The Évelyne

Practical, imaginative, expert: a head of the Hermes Riding Dept.must think of everything. Évelyne Bertrand, who held that position in 1978, had decided to spare a thought for grooms who are also riders in love with their mounts. It was to enable them to carry brush, sponge, and other stable items soaked in horse-sweat, but without causing any damage, that this bag which now bears her name is constellated with air-holes.   Their H shape set in a horseshoe oval makes it so elegant that pedestrians generally have refused to let the riders have the thing to themselves! That's why the H of the Évelyne no longer suggests only material for grooming, but now for the world to love and cherish for everyday. 

Brown Thomas Dublin, Ireland. (Excuse the Louis's in this pic)
Mini Kelly
Hermes leather Garden Party handbag, 5 yrs introduced leather, but canvas before that.

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