Ok, so here’s the skinny: Designed by Hermes in collaboration with jeweler and shoe designer Pierre Hardy, this Hermes Kelly is made out of solid rose gold dotted with a total of 1160 diamonds. The bag (bag-bracelet?) can be carried conventionally or worn with the handles around the wrist as a sort of bangle. After a few minutes of imagining, I guess I can see how the body of the “bag” might hang from the wrist without looking too awkward.
This isn’t just a piece of jewelry, though. Hardy molded the rose gold to look like crocodile leather, and the flap closure actually works, although the bag is too small to hold even a pair of sunglasses. Total manufacturing time on the pieces (yes, there are four styles that will be made three times each, for a total of 12 bags, according to the Financial Times) was two years.
Let that sink in for a second and then join me after the jump.
The natural response to the news that Hermes plans to make $24 million on a dozen tiny bags is probably to look out the window and make sure that the apocalypse isn’t upon us, and as far as I can tell, it’s not. (But, you know, maybe buy some bottled water just in case.) It wasn’t too long ago that people were choking on the idea of a $200,000 Hermes bag, that one also dotted with diamonds.
On further reflection, however, this is probably a genius move based on what we know about Hermes’ dedicated and wealthy customer base. On our Forum, I’ve seen collection photos from women who have what seems like dozens of crocodile Birkins and Kellys; those women likely also patronize extremely high-end jewelers as well, and it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that 12 of them would have both the excessive means and the collector’s compulsion to snatch up one of these bag-bracelets. If only so that they can display it in their surely vast closets. After all, being stinkin’ rich makes most people kind of crazy.
Hermes is a brand that monitors its own public image very, very carefully, so the two years lead time and considerable resources that went into making these bags were obviously pored over in every detail. The end result fits with the brand identity very well: extravagant wealth, fantastical luxury, the best of everything, a strong sense of the house’s history. Don’t be surprised if these pieces sell out quickly and more projects like this one come forth in the future. After all, Hermes is one of the only brands in the world that has the kind of devoted, wealthy customer base that can make a would-be publicity gimmick into a sellable piece of company history.
The Kelly bag has just as glamorous a tale behind it. Originally designed as a saddle-bag in about 1892, it is named after the film star Grace Kelly, wife of Prince Rainier of Monaco, since she fell in love with one used as a prop during filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief.She set the large bag to great use in 1956, when, not ready to announce her pregnancy, she kept up one to hide her emerging baby bulge in the paparazzi. A picture found itself on the cover of Life magazine. With that, the bag was instantly synonymous with Grace and it had been re-named the Kelly.The Hermes website boasts: ‘A Kelly is a rare and precious thing’ and a week, a spokesman for the firm stressed that the amount of bags it can create is limited because only a few of organizers have the necessary abilities to earn them.They pointed out that one employee takes 18 to 25 hours to create each Kelly bag by hand, while the Birkin takes even longer, saying: ‘Our production remains highly dependent on the know-how of our artisans.’