The history of Hermès Kelly

Hermès Kelly bags

Thanks to the star of the films of Alfred Hitchcock, who became the young princess of Monaco in 1956, the Kelly remains the most emblematic of all Hermès bags.

Its distinctive shape was inspired by the ‘Haut à Courroies’, a large bag designed in 1892 for horsemen. In the thirties, with the rise of the motor car, Hermès extended its offering to leather goods and designed a travel bag with a more feminine appeal reinterpreting the ‘Haut à Courroies’ on a smaller scale.

In a famous photograph taken in 1956, Grace Kelly is shown carrying this Hermès bag. Clients started ordering this bag, asking for the “Kelly bag”, referring to the beautiful princess of Monaco. The high demand for this bag has been unfailing and in 1977 Hermès officially renamed the bag.

Today, the Kelly bag comes in five sizes: 25x18 cm, 28x21 cm, 32x23 cm, 35x25 cm and 40x28.5 cm. Hermès makes it in a wide variety of types of leather and colours plus bespoke bags of great luxury and originality.

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Hermès Kelly Analysis report

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Models of Kelly bag

The Kelly Bag comes in more than ten sizes, the most commonly known are the 28 cm, 32 cm and 35 cm. It is available in twenty materials. Twenty years ago, the Kelly bag was only made in five colours: brown, black, red, green and navy blue. Today it is available in more than fifty colours.

Special features of the Kelly

The Kelly bag is trapezoidal with a handle, onto which, from 1960, they added a detachable strap, allowing for the bag to be carried by hand or on the shoulder. It closes using two exterior buckles and a padlock. It is equipped with a strong leather lining, as well as four studs fixed to the base, allowing it to be rested on the floor. Its unparalleled quality requires the same craftsman to work on the bag for eighteen to twenty-four hours.


Leather and crocodile are the two main materials from which the Kelly is made: leather makes up 66% of Kelly bags sold at auction, and crocodile, 25%. The leather Kelly (in various sizes and colours) sold on average for €1,907 in 2006 in contrast to an average of €5,708 in 2014, representing a 200% increase. A Kelly in excellent condition or in original colours, can cost between 20 and 30% more.

Due to the wait required to get hold of a new Kelly, it is not uncommon to see the auction price exceed that of a new Kelly. Unsurprisingly, the rarest Kelly bag on the market are also the most expensive. A buyer will pay on average €6,423 for a pink Kelly, one of the rarer colours of Kelly seen at auction. The taupe grey Kelly is also very well-known: also known as “etoupe”, the iconic grey of the house, it is traded for an average of €7,243 at auction.

All the figures of this study emanate from the databases of LuxPrice-index© , who survey the results of more than 200 000 auctions from the main auction houses around the world across a 12 year span.

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