T he autumn season brings a lot to be excited about. With the change in weather and the holiday season just around the corner, this is the time when one’s social calendar starts to fill up and the necessity for accessorising outfits really kicks into gear. Look no further than Sotheby’s Hong Kong Handbags & Accessories (29 September – 12 October) to discover the best limited edition Hermès for adding some fun and colour to your wardrobe.
A showcase of how Hermès can add a whimsical twist to its iconic handbags without compromising its elegance, a selection of the curation highlighted below has been organised under seven collections, each an example of how a Hermès Birkin, Kelly or Constance can continue to intrigue and surprise collectors.
It was only a matter of time before Hermès paid homage to its legendary bags in jewellery and Pierre Hardy – the creative director for Hermès Jewellery – did so with the Kellymorphose collection. Celebrating the characteristic elements of a Hermès Kelly, the collection included necklaces, bracelets, double rings and more, such as the Kelly Gavroche depicting the side straps of the Hermès Kelly in a fluid necklace. However, the stand-out piece is no doubt the Sac Bijou Kelly that is up for sale in Handbags & Accessories. The ultra mini crossbody bag, featuring a Hermès Kelly in chainmail silver that is big enough to hold small essentials such as a credit card or Airpods, is a treasured find indeed. A spectacular piece of jewellery in its own right, the Sac Bijou Kelly can also be worn as a necklace, and as adornment for the wrist and fingers. It is the pièce de resistance of the whole auction and a sparkling example of the whimsy that Hermès can demonstrate in its beloved classics.
While there are no shortage of rare Birkin or Kelly designs, there are some that have been vaulted to a status of extreme rarity, such as a Metallic Birkin 30 in Silver that is made from Chèvre leather. Unveiled in 2005, Metallic Birkins are a limited collection that was sparked by the spectacular window displays at the Hermès flagship boutique on 42 Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris created by Leïla Menchari, who was the director of window displays for the maison and retired in 2013. The sheer amount of metallic pigments needed to dye the bag gives the Chèvre leather a unique finish. The unique texture of the bag plus its unusual colour makes the Metallic Birkin one of the more expensive designs produced by Hermès.
Kelly Picnic and Birkin Picnic
Hermès introduced its Picnic design in 2011, starting with the Kelly Picnic 32. Featuring a body made of Osier wicker and the closing flap, shoulder strap and other complements made from Swift leather, it is the only design in the Hermès family that requires two artisans to craft – one for the wicker and one for the leather elements. Hermès followed up with a Mini Kelly Picnic in 2019 and a Birkin Picnic 25 in 2021.
The wicker brings a relaxed element to a Kelly and Birkin and instantly brings to mind carefree Summer days spent lounging on lush green lawns. The Picnic Bags that are up for auction include a Mini Kelly Picnic II 20 in Bleu du Nord, a dainty sky blue in Swift leather, as well as a Birkin Picnic 25 in Rouge Sellier.
One would think that it will be impossible to apply the cuteness of a doll to a Hermès Kelly bag but thanks to the creativity of Jean-Louis Dumas, who was the chairman and artistic director of Hermès from 1978 to 2006, that unlikely combination became a much-loved design. Dumas unveiled the design, featuring cartoon-like faces on the façade of the Kelly bag in 2000. The first launch of the Hermès Kelly Doll, also known as a Quelle Idole, was available in eight different colour combinations and concluded its run in 2005. In 2008, Hermès launched the collection again, as way to celebrate the opening of its boutiques around the world.
With the characteristic elements of a Kelly bag turned into the nose and arms of a doll, along with eyes, a smiling mouth and feet, the Quelle Idole is a playful take on a Kelly bag and an effective way to add a surprising element to a look. It was given a fresh twist in 2022, with the launch of the Kelly Doll Picto which became an instant hit. The bag’s whimsical face is given a pixelated look, while bag comes with an additional shoulder strap and a little “backpack” that attaches to the back of the doll.
Aizome Kelly and Aizome Mini Constance
Aizome is a close to 800-year-old method for indigo dye that hails from the Tokushima prefecture in Japan. Hermès uses the technique for its crocodile skin leathers so it takes on a regal blue shade, with the patterns of the skin allowing the dye to produce tints and depths of colour giving additional character to the bag. This season, Handbags & Accessories offers an Aizome Kelly 28 Sellier crafted from Porosus crocodile skin that was dyed to a light cobalt blue shade ‘Hanada’ – a lively hue that softens the structured shape of a Kelly Sellier. There is also a Mini Constance 18 in ‘Tomekon’ that may look simple at first, however the Aizome process used to produce the colour gives it an undertone and allure that one can’t find in a normal dark blue shade.
Jean Paul Gaultier, the designer behind Madonna’s famous cone bra, was the creative director for Hermès from 2003 to 2010 and was responsible for designing some of the most loved versions of the Birkin and Kelly. One particularly offbeat design is the Shadow Birkin, featuring all the iconic lines of a Birkin through embossment of the leather from inside the bag. The design was inspired by the trompe l’oeil painting technique of depicting an object to such a degree of realism that it will intrigue the viewer. Any collector carrying the bag will likely astound people around them seeing as the Shadow Birkin is a rare find these days.