H andbags and Accessories offers extraordinary examples of the finest craftsmanship from Hermès, Chanel, and Goyard. The sale features a hand-picked selection of handbags in a variety of sizes, skins and colours, as well as accessories to complement every occasion. Sotheby’s is pleased to work with Hardly Ever Worn It on this unparalleled sale of exquisite and timeless items.
The Birkin Bag was originally designed for Jane Birkin in 1983 when Jean-Louis Dumas sat next to Birkin on a flight from Paris to London. After discussing the need for a larger bag for modern women, Jane actually drafted the first design of a Birkin on an airplane sickness bag. She was then invited to collaborate with the brand on the designs, and four years later the Birkin was born. Younger than the Kelly, the Birkin was designed to be an everyday tote bag, created slightly wider to hold more.
Each bag is handcrafted by specialist artisans, taking several days to finish. Leathers are obtained from different tanners across France and come in a variety of hides including Calf leather, Lizard, Ostrich, Crocodile, and Alligator. Birkins come in many sizes including the original size 40 and modern favourites 25, 30 & 35, JPG Shoulder Birkin (Designed by Jean Paul Gaultier) and the Haut á Courroies.
"In our era of fast consumption and brand overload, Hermès stands the test of time. The savoir-faire of the maison founded in Paris by Thierry Hermès as a saddlery maker for French noblemen in 1837 is unparalled."
The Hermès Kelly, recognisable by its single top handle, additional shoulder strap & smaller more structured form (originally named Haut à Courroies), was created by Émile-Maurice Hermès and Ettore Bugatti for Hermès’ wife Julie. It was then redesigned by Robert Dumas, and subsequently known as Sac à Dépêches. In 1956 the late princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, used the bag to disguise her pregnancy from photographers, this thrust the bag into the spotlight, and it was officially renamed the Kelly in 1977.
There are two styles of the Kelly bag. The Sellier (Saddler) has sharp edges & visible stitches, giving it a more rigid look. The Retourné is a Sellier turned inside out giving it a slouchy more relaxed feel, with no visible stitching. Every Kelly has 2600 individual hand stitches and takes between 18 to 25 hours to handcraft by a single artisan and sizes include the 25, 28, 32 & 35.
Fashion Jewellery: Chanel to Hermès
Hermès’ leather and saddlery division describe the Haut à Courroies as "originally designed to fit a saddle, boots, and equipment, and if it can carry all that, it is perfect for everything you want to pack in a modern travel bag."
The Endless Road Sac à Courroies is inspired by pop art paintings of California and represents ‘’the soul of Hermès – the dialogue between the craftsman and the designer." The Endless road collection is described by Hermès as ‘The Endless Road winding through a Californian landscape’, it was the 2018 flagship pattern of the men’s universe featured through clothing, bags and leather goods.
Each piece in the collection shows the California landscape from a different angle, The HAC being the only piece to show the whole landscape. The HAC itself is made up of 47 leather pieces in 11 different colours, all hand-cut taking over 30 hours to create.
Fulconis, executive VP of Hermès, would not disclose how many of the endless road bags were on sale, but did say, "We love to create exceptional pieces, but we know we can’t make very many. We are always going to be limited by the small number of craftsmen who can actually do work of this quality." Due to the intricate nature of the crafting process, the bag is very exclusive and hard to find, almost doubling in price, and selling for over £50,000 on multiple occasions. The craftsmanship, time, and design make The Endless Road Birkin HAC a collector’s dream.
Barenia leather is a high-quality calf leather used by Hermès’ equestrian division since the 1970s. It is one of Hermès’ original saddle leathers and requires a specific tanning process which takes 5-6 weeks and is only known by a select few craftsmen.
Barenias’ smooth exterior has a hint of oil-absorbing gloss which becomes softer with use. The natural leather will create a patina over time and continue to improve in appearance. The leather is water-resistant and has the recognisable white stitching. Unlike other Hermès leather which is foil stamped, the branding is embossed. Barenia Leather is used more for small leather goods as it is harder to find a perfect hide for larger items. Discovering a Birkin or Kelly in Barenia is a particularly rare find.
Finds for Under £5,000
Chanel: Red Chocolate Bar Heart Shaped Bag
The Chocolate Bar Heart Shaped Bag is one of only 100 made in the world. It was originally sold in a charity auction to raise money for the victims of the 9/11 attack in New York. Made of perspex and lined in red lambskin, the small clutch has a gold-tone wristlet chain with gold hook closure over the CC logo.
This bag was produced in 2002, and measures 2.7cm x 14cm. It is in excellent condition and originally crafted in Italy. One of the famed owners of the Chanel Chocolate Heart Bag is Kylie Jenner, who has an extensive collection of rare Chanel pieces.
Hermès exotic skin bags are the ultimate status symbol. It is said that it's virtually impossible to buy a crocodile or alligator handbag directly from Hermès without having spent six figures. The Porosus Crocodile skin is considered the rarest as it is the most costly and rare.
Hermès obey strict ethical standards to obtain their exotic skins, and the skin itself takes decades to reach maturity. As crocodiles are larger than alligators, they are more frequently used to make Birkins 35cm and 40cm, whereas alligators are usually used to make the smaller bags.
Exotic skin bags are seen as more valuable on the resale market due to the difficulty in obtaining them and increase in value at a faster rate than regular Hermès bags.
To care for Alligator and Crocodile leather you should consider when and where you use it. The leather should avoid bad weather and prolonged periods of intense sunlight. When you are not using your bag, store it in a dry environment away from light, preferably in its Hermès box or dust cover for maximum protection.
There are different ways to tell the difference between the skins; Alligator scales are smoother and more symmetric, they also have an umbilical scar shaped like a star. Crocodile bags have small pores close to the edge of each scale, alligators do not have pores. The line that runs along the centre of the bag is the umbilical scar, the more symmetrical this is, the higher the value of the bag.
Each bag is also marked to show depending on the skin; Niloticus Crocodile (Sourced from the River Nile) have two dots •• next to the Hermès logo and Porosus (from Asia or Australia) have a chevron ^ mark. Alligator will have a square sign □ next to the Hermès logo.
Chanel: The Hula Hoop Bag
The first Chanel Hula Hoop Bag was extra-large and was originally seen on the catwalk at Chanel’ s spring/summer 2013 show. Designed by the late Karl Largerfeld, the bag was made for the beach! Lagerfeld said
"You need space for the beach towel, huh? And then you can put it into the sand and hang things on it."
Officially called the Wind Power Bag, the smaller sizes were released shortly afterwards due to the buzz created around the initial catwalk piece. They are no longer in production, so only a limited number are available, making it a Chanel collectable.
This bag is crafted from black quilted lambskin and features the signature flap with a CC turnlock closure in palladium plated hardware. It is 32cm width, 34cm height and 10cm deep.
Hermès: Silk Accessories
Hardly Ever Worn It
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