In honor of Grace Kelly’s birthday, we’re taking a look at the history of the iconic handbag named after her: the Hermès Kelly bag.
The original Hermès Kelly handbag, in exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Photo: REX FEATURES
The very first prototype for the Kelly bag was introduced circa 1892, as a bag to hold saddles; Hermès does have a equine background, after all, which was called “Haut à courroies.” In 1923, Emille Maurice Hermès redesigned the “Haut à courroies” bag for his wife; it was smaller, but still big enough to hold saddle. It wasn’t until the 1930s when Hermès’ son-in-law, Robert Dumas, remade the “Haut à courroies” into the “Sac à dépêche,” a simple yet stylish bag, with a trapezoid shape, closed with two straps, and four studs on the bottom, allowing the bag to remain upright when placed on a flat surface.
Black Togo Kelly 28cm with Gold Hardware $19,750. Blue Paradis Swift Kelly Pochette with Palladium Hardware $24,500. Vintage Orange H Kelly 32cm with Gold Hardware $7,300. Craie Swift Kelly Cut with Gold Hardware $14,995.
Grace Patricia Kelly (1929-1982) was an American Hollywood actress, best known for her roles in films like High Noon, To Catch a Thief, and High Society. In 1956, she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco, and Grace Kelly became Princess of Monaco, a sovereign state in the French Riviera that, although independent from France, speaks the same language and maintains a similar joie de vivre. The story of the American actress turned princess captivated thousands across the world, and nobody could deny her beauty, elegance, and style.
In the 1995 Alfred Hitchcock film, “To Catch a Thief,” Grace Kelly, who played a millionaire’s spoiled daughter, carried Hermès’ “Sac à dépêches,” and instantly loved it. After marrying Prince Rainier, Grace used her Hermès bag to hide her growing pregnant belly from the paparazzi. Soon, the public started associating this handbag with Grace Kelly and began calling it the “Kelly Bag.” However, it wasn’t until 1977 that Hermès officially rebaptize the Sac à dépêches as the Kelly bag.
Limited Edition Kelly Flag 32cm White and Blue Thalassa $19,999. Green Bamboo Kelly 28cm with Palladium Hardware $13,999. Rose Confetti Epsom Kelly Pochette $17,600. Pre-owned Berenia and Rouge Toile Couvertures Horse Print Kelly 32cm $24,999.