Handbags & Accessories

Don't Miss Two of the Rarest Limited Edition Hermès Kelly Bags: Kellywood and Kelly So Black Feather

By Lucy Bishop
Hermès Kellywood and Hermès Kelly Feather both Available in Hong Kong Spring Sales April 1-13
Hermes Kellywood Design

T he market for luxury designer bags and small leather goods has grown dramatically, and is expected to grow to US$100 billion by 2027 from US$72 billion today. Within the secondary market, the demand for collectible Hermès bags is soaring and expected to continue due to strong demand exceeding supply. Among the most popular includes Birkin and Hermès Kelly bags. Even more coveted are Hermès’ Limited Edition releases, many produced for one season only, or others that run for years, getting redesigned into fresh versions.

The ultimate Hermès bag for many handbag collectors is the Kelly bag. The Hermès Kelly has roots reaching back to 1892, when the iconic closure was first used in a design meant for carrying a saddle and riding boots. In the 1930s, the bag was redesigned by Robert Dumas, the son-in-law of Émile-Maurice Hermès, into its iconic trapezium shape. This was a nod towards the increasing popularity of the automobile, and was meant to fit in a side door pocket. The bag however, did not gain popularity until 1956 when Grace Kelly used the Hermès bag to shield her baby-bump from paparazzi. Subsequently, in 1977, the Hermès bag was officially named the Kelly bag after the actress and Princess of Monaco.

We are highlighting two limited edition Hermès Kelly bags that are among the rarest and most collectible featured in our Hong Kong Spring Handbag Sales.

Hermès Kelly Bag

Hermès Kellywood Perspective Cavaliere Kelly 22

First released in 2020, the Kellywood introduced a new size for the iconic Hermès Kelly bag: 22. Originally produced in Bog Oak with an innovative Larmé inlay technique, the latest version features a body of solid beechwood, and a front panel with a Bauhaus-inspired “Perspective Cavalier” pattern designed by the art collective Anamorphée. Requiring the joining of six different types of leather, spanning eleven different colors, totalling 60 pieces, this bag beautifully displays Hermès marquetry mastery. The front flap is made out of Fauve Barenia leather with white contrasting stitching further demonstrating the highly precise mastery of craft the brand is reputable for.

Produced only in an extremely limited quantity, the Kellywood Perspective Cavaliere is one of the rarest collectible bags right now, and this example debuts the style at auction in Sotheby’s Hong Kong Auction Handbags & Accessories (1 – 13 April) making this the ultimate Hermès bag to look out for this season.

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Hermès Kelly Bag

Hermès Kelly 32 Feather So Black

Among the most coveted Hermès collections on the market are those created by fashion world legend Jean-Paul Gaultier. During his tenure as the Creative Director of Hermès from 2004 to 2010, the revolutionary French designer created iconic spin-offs of the house’s signature designs. Produced in limited quantities and sometimes exclusively for runway shows, these bags are no longer in production and remain highly coveted by collectors. Debuted in his final year at Hermès, the So Black collection is among the most highly sought-after in the secondary market. While prices and demand skyrocketed in 2019 before stabilizing, So Black bags that appear on the market continue to fetch record prices, in particular for exotic designs owing to their scarcity.

The rarest So Black bags feature panels of feathers. Constructed in collaboration with Maison Lemarié, the haute couture feather métier founded in 1880, the Hermès So Black Feather Kelly is a true masterpiece demonstrating the exquisite craftsmanship of two historic French luxury ateliers. Together, Hermès and Maison Lemarié selected the finest natural feathers, attaching them meticulously to the Kelly bag one at a time to create a luxurious and majestic front panel; an unparalleled touch of extravagance to heighten the classic Hermès Kelly Bag.

The present lot, which will go on the block live in 50th Anniversary Luxury Evening Sale on 5 April, marks only the second time a Hermès Kelly So Black Feathers has ever appeared at auction, and the first for a size 32, making this truly a holy grail of handbags for the Hermès aficionado.

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