The Kelly Connection

February 27, 2008

There’s an old saying that tells women to wear a nice coat and carry a great handbag in order to project an image of class and sophistication. Well, there’s great handbags, and then there’s the Hermès Kelly. If you don’t know the history of the iconic carryall, here’s a quick rundown:

Created in 1892 as a saddle carrier (Hermès began as a saddlemaker), the Kelly was downsized in the 1930s to be used as a purse. The bag was well-loved in certain social circles, but it wasn’t until movie star and Princess Grace Kelly appeared on a cover of Life magazine carrying the bag that it became supremely coveted. The photo (above) ran on the cover in 1956, and showed Kelly using her crocodile bag to discreetly hide her burgeoning pregnancy.
Thus began the life of the first real “it” bag–a distinction it still holds today. Some debate the differences between the Kelly and its sibling the Birkin (click here to read an assessment in The Washington Post), but most maintain that the Kelly is the ultimate status symbol. What makes it so special? Each bag is handcrafted by a single artisan using only the best luxury materials, and production is limited, insuring a wait list every season.
Don’t want to be stuck on line with general public? You’re in luck. Portero has managed to acquire a large stash of Kellys in a variety of colors and leathers. With a few clicks, you can make yourself a member of the most exclusive handbag club in the world. Now that’s instant gratification. Click right here to see Portero’s sublime collection of genuine Hermes Kelly bags.
Image from Life magazine
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