H andbags are perhaps the most indispensable, and fashion’s most practical, accessory. More so than any other fashion item, the handbag encapsulates the spirit of an era, unlocking a window into the fashion trends and lifestyle of its time.
This month, the two-part sale of The Art of Collecting Handbags: The Visionary Collection of Joseph Lau kicks off with an exquisite offering of 77 items in an online auction from 30 January through 9 February, which will be followed by part two in July 2023.
Part of the sale proceeds from this auction will be donated to charity.
“The collection of handbags that Joseph Lau has curated and assembled is truly visionary. The limited edition pieces that have made and shaped the history of handbags in the past two decades can all be found in this collection.”
Take a trip down modern handbag history with our department specialists and explore some of the great milestones of the past two decades as spotlighted by the collection.
Homage to the History of Fashion
A legend in the fashion world, Jean-Paul Gaultier and his seminal designs hold a special position in the history of fashion and the hearts of Hermès collectors. 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. Joseph Lau was visionary to collect many of Gaultier’s radical designs over the years, documenting an important part of fashion history.
Limited Edition Shearling Teddy Kelly 35
Designed by Gaultier, this cozy Kelly bag debuted in 2005. The Shearling “Teddy” Kelly is constructed out of tan suede and shearling, giving the Hermès Kelly a winter-friendly makeover. The bag also features Ebene Barenia leather accents, adding a touch of classic elegance to this limited edition.
Limited Edition So Black Kelly 35
Debuted at Gaultier’s final show for Hermès in Fall 2010, the uber-chic So Black collection features black PVD hardware and all-black packaging. One simple twist of coating the standard hardware with black PVD not only reinvented the classic Birkin design, but also unleashed the brand’s motifs.
Custom Made Multicolour Fringe Birkin 35
The Fringe Birkin is an extremely limited edition item rare to the market and this one was also customised upon the client’s request, making it a Holy Grail of any handbag collection. The fringe mimics the structure of horsehair, walking the footsteps of Hermès history.
Celebrating Handbag Legacy
Mini Kelly 20 I
The earliest known Hermès Kelly 20 dates from 1957 and was produced with a mid-length shoulder strap. The iconic round top-handle that has led collectors to dub it a bracelet handle wasn’t seen until 1980.
Appearing in this sale in excellent vintage condition is the beautiful Rose Bonbon Shiny Porosus Crocodile Mini Kelly 20 I Gold Hardware, 1997. The launch of the first version Mini Kelly marks the beginning of evolution and continues in its market lead till now.
Bejewelled and Dazzled
The glamorous Diamond Birkin bag is a favourite of Hermès fanatics and a true collectors’ item. Included in the sale are six exquisite diamond Birkins, all in different sizes and colours, pairing perfectly with the diamond-encrusted 18k white gold hardware.
For Birkin 30, the cadenas lock alone is comprised of around 68.4 grams of 18k white gold and encrusted with 40 white, round brilliant diamonds. On the bag, three different structural elements of the Birkin – the Touret, the Pontets, and the Plaques de Sanglons – feature more than 200 diamonds for a total of around 10 carats.
Limited Edition Bronze Metallic Kelly 25
The Metallic collection is extremely rare and was only in production in 2004 and 2005 with limited quantities. The bag, which required artisans to hand-dye the metallic pigmentation onto the leather until its texture changes, was inspired by the famous window displays designed by Leïla Menchari for the Hermès flagship store at 24, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. Today, nearly two decades later, very few Metallics remain in such perfect condition as the one offered in this sale.
The Metallic collection has now become a vintage treasure. Only six metallic Birkins and Kellys have made its appearance at auction over the past decade, the last of which achieved HK$1.07 million in April 2022 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, making it the most expensive leather Birkin to come to auction.