Handbags & Accessories

Everything You Need to Know About the Hermès Kelly Doll

By Max Brownawell
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Leather Hermès Kelly Dolls
Leather Hermès Kelly Dolls

Kelly Doll 1st Edition 2000-2005

Adored by collectors around the world, the Hermès Kelly Doll or Quelle Idole bag was conceived in whimsy. First released in 2000 and designed by Jean-Louis Dumas, these pint-sized buddy bags originally retailed for around $2,500. Kelly Dolls were produced in eight different color-ways during their first run: Orange H, Rouge H, Black, Noisette, Blue Saphir, Vert Olive, Vert Cru, and Rouge Vif (no examples of Vert Cru or Vert Olive Kelly Dolls have ever sold at auction). Orange H is the most common color, with over 27% of Kelly Dolls sold at auction sporting the House shade. Black is the second most common, comprising over 18% of the market. Through 2004 these bags could be found at Hermes boutiques and on the secondary market for not much more than retail, though after their discontinuation in 2005 collectors began to consider them in a different light.

Hermès Bleu Zellige and Bleu Agate Swift Kelly Doll Quelle Idole Palladium Hardware, 2019

Kelly Doll 2nd Edition 2008-2010

In 2008, Hermès began producing limited runs of the Kelly Doll again, mostly to mark the opening of new boutiques around the world. Through 2010 a number of new color-ways came out of the Pantin ateliers including Blue Jean, and Vermillion, but most notably 5P pink, which was selected for the 2010 opening of the Sogo boutique in Hong Kong. After 2010 Hermes retired the Kelly Doll again, which truly spurred collectors to pay attention whenever they came to market.

Hermès HSS Kelly Dolls

Exquisite and HSS Kelly Dolls begin in 2015

In 2015 Hermès debuted a set of five exquisite Quelle Idole bags at the Leather Forever exhibition in Singapore. These unique pieces, which featured embroidery, beading, exotic skins and other unique elements, went viral online among Hermès collectors and were later auctioned for charity. The excitement from this event stuck with collectors for years, and in 2017 the first HSS Kelly Dolls began to emerge from Hermès’ workshops. A new age of Quelle Idole had begun, one marked by the added whimsy of selecting your own colors and materials. Since then numerous examples have come on to the secondary market in myriad combinations. The rarest and most sought-after examples are rendered in Matte Alligator. Hermès keeps the production of these bags extremely limited. It is unknown if ever we will see examples in shiny alligator, ostrich, lizard, or perhaps even suede. Recent examples have been spotted in a limited edition Blue Zellige colorway that, like early runs, has no Horse Shoe Stamp, as well as new ‘Touch’ Kelly Dolls that feature shiny alligator hands, feet, eyebrows and smile against a Swift leather body.

Hermès Black and Chocolate Gulliver 'Quelle Idole' Kelly Doll Palladium Hardware, 2000

The Value of Kelly Dolls

Appearing at auction with some regularity, the Kelly Doll has been an iconic presence on the market for over a decade now. Prior to 2015 only 1st edition Kelly Dolls had sold at auction and none topped $20,000. Today, over 50% of Kelly Dolls sold at auction have been from their first production run, with less than 20% coming from the 2008-2010 group which have averaged almost $45,000 since their first appearance at auction in 2015. These Kelly Dolls made for boutique openings have always been valued higher than the original versions, though in 2020 the auction average for the originals jumped 28% over the year prior to almost $30,000, and in 2021 the average jumped another 29% to over $41,000. This ascension, though, seems paltry in comparison to the nearly $78,000 average 2nd edition Kelly Dolls achieved in 2021, topping the year’s $61,500 average for Swift HSS Kelly Dolls. These had previously averaged in the $50,000-$55,000 range.

Alligator HSS Kelly Dolls have become some of the most sought after bags in the world. Assembling a collection of leather Kelly Dolls is a feat unto itself, but acquiring multiple Alligator Kelly Dolls is a level of collecting unthinkable to most. Since their inception only six have sold at auction, and while their average prices stayed under $90,000 their first two years on the market, 2020’s nearly $110,000 average was smashed by the sole example sold in 2021 which achieved over $240,000. These exquisite exotics are now ranked at the top of the collecting market along with Faubourg Birkins, Kelly Wood, Kelly Feather or Sterling Kellys and Himalayans.

Hermès Sanguine Tadelakt Kelly Doll Bag Charm Palladium Hardware, 2021

Kelly Doll Charm

Just last year Hermès released a new even tinier Kelly Doll. Only about 6.5cm across, these itty-bitty expressions of exquisite leather craftsmanship are designed to adorn a bag, though fully function as their full-size sisters do. Only three have come to auction so far, averaging just under $8,000, though if the trajectories of their predecessors are any indication, another digit will soon be added to that average value.

Hermès Kelly Bags Available For Purchase

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