I n recent years, the market for luxury designer bags and small leather goods has seen immense proliferation, and is expected to grow to US$100 billion by 2027 from US$72 billion today. Within the secondary market, the demand for collectible handbags is also soaring and expected to continue. Among the most revered includes Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags, which has a proven track record of value retention (averaging 96% for the Birkin, and 108% for the Kelly). Even more coveted are the French luxury brand’s Limited Edition releases, many produced for one season only, or others that run for years, getting redesigned into fresh versions.
The ultimate handbag for many a handbag lover and Hermès collector, the Kelly bag can be traced back to 1892, designed as a large bag used for holding a saddle. In the 1930s, the bag was redesigned by Robert Dumas, the son-in-law of Émile-Maurice Hermès, to its iconic trapezium shape. The bag however, did not gain popularity until 1955 when Grace Kelly used it on the set of Alfred Hitchcock’s film To Catch a Thief. Subsequently, in 1977, the bag was officially named after the actress and Princess of Monaco.
Here are two limited edition Kelly bags set to make a splash this spring in our Hong Kong Spring Sales.
Hermès Limited Edition Fauve Barenia, Multicolor Clemence, Togo, Epsom, Madame, Tadelakt, Chevre and Bog Oak Kellywood Perspective Cavaliere Kelly 22 Palladium Hardware, 2022
An innovative refresh of the brand’s much-loved trapezium Kelly bag, the Kellywood Perspective Cavaliere features a front panel artwork of a Bauhaus silk scarf pattern designed by the art collective Anamorphée. Requiring the joining of six different types of leather, and wood spanning a multitude of vibrant colours, totalling 60 pieces, the bag is nothing short of a display of Hermès marquetry craftsmanship. While the beautifully crafted frame is made out of natural Bog Oakwood, the front flap is made out of Fauve Barenia leather with white contrasting stitching demonstrating the highly precise mastery of woodworking and saddlery-leatherwork the brand is reputable for.
The newest release from Hermès, and produced only in an extremely limited quantity, the Kellywood Perspective Cavaliere is one of the hottest collectible items trending in topic right now, and the present lot Kellywood Perspective Cavaliere Kelly 22 is an auction debut in Handbags & Accessories (1 – 13 April) making this the ultimate bag to look out for this season.
Hermès Limited Edition Black Box Feathers So Black Kelly 32 Sellier Black PVD Hardware, 2010
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 exclusively for runway shows, the bags are no longer in production and remain highly coveted.
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 stabilising, So Black bags that appear on the market continue to fetch record prices, in particular for exotic designs owing to their scarcity.
Constructed in collaboration with Maison Lemarié, the haute couture feather métier founded in 1880, the Black Box Feathers So Black Kelly 32 is arguably a true masterpiece demonstrating the exquisite craftsmanship of the French luxury brand. Together, Hermès and Maison Lemarié selected the finest natural feathers, attaching them meticulously to the handbag one at a time to create the luxurious and majestic front feather panel, adding an extra touch of extravagance and flare to the Hermès classic.
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 Black Box Feathers So Black Kelly has ever appeared at auction, and the first for a size 32, making this truly a holy grail of handbags for the Hermès aficionado.