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An Hermès 'Kelly', in black box calfskin leather with gold plated hardware, size 32, in the retourne construction style. 


Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, recieved her first Hermès bag in 1955, after filming To Catch a Thief. While curating the wardrobe Kelly's wealthy character, Frances Stevens, costume designer Edith Head included an Hermès handbag known as the Sac à Dépêches. Kelly's personal favorite part of Stevens' wardrobe, which director Alfred Hitchcock gifted to her after filming.


Two years later, After marrying Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, Kelly, now Princess of Monaco was famously photographed multiple times using her beloved Hermès bag to hide her pregnancy from the public. The fame the 

Sac à Dépêches gained from its' association with the princess not only pushed the Hermès brand into the spotlight like never before, it fueled the unofficial renaming- the Hermès Kelly. Hermès made the name official 20 years later.


This bag's hidden identification stamping shows it was created in 1978, the first production year after the official renaming of the Kelly. Crafted from box calfskin, Hermès' once signature leather that has now been discontinued. Box calf is a specially tanned and polished leather with a smooth texture and a slight natural shine intended to age as worn, and scratches blend into the surface of the leather as it's luster softens over time. Gold plated hardware can be found at the front of the bag, applied by hand with brass nails. Crafted in the retourne style, this bag's edge seams are inside the bag, and its' trim features thin piping. The box calf retourne Kelly was considered the 'test bag' for Hermès craftsmen, as it is the most difficult to produce. The entire body of bag is constructed inside out and stitched by hand, this leather's thickness and strength proved to be the perfect challenge to test the skill of a craftsman after training.


Now considered to be one of the most exclusive bags in the world, a new Hermès Kelly requires extensive puchase history and a long waitlist for the possible opportunity to buy, making it one of the most exclusive bags in the world- and one of the best investments. With a retail value on a spectrum of $8,000-$100,000 (approximately), the Kelly has an average resale value of three times the retail with the world record resale price of over $345,000 for a limited edition exotic.


This bag includes the original lock, keys, and clochette, as well as an era-appropriate dustbag that is slightly too small and fits best upside-down to accomodate the handle. Photos 11 and 12 show the surface of the leather in direct light, highlighting the minimal spotting and scratching- excellent condition for a 45 year old bag in box calf. All four corners show light wear. A few small water blisters appear on the handle, created when water seeps under the finish of the leather and creates a blister which later flakes off. While this reaction is not always the case in water exposure, efforts to avoid it are highly recommended. The gold-plated hardware shows hairline scratching, and the touret (the central piece of hardware that brings the closure together and holds the lock) has a slight wiggle when turned. One key occasionally sticks in the lock. 12.5" X 9" X 3". Handcrafted in France.


Hermès has a strict policy against third party services caring for a bag under any circumstances, so this bag does not qualify for Chicologie cleaning & repairs. To my knowledge, upon close inspection, this bag is still eligible for Hermès care. Assistance will be provided if this bag needs any care from Hermès. Please feel welcome and encouraged to inquire for more details on condition before puchasing if you feel so inclined.


Due to the age of this bag, some design elements differ from the modern Kelly. The lock and keys are brass, as are the nails that attach the hardware. The inner zipper does not feature Hermès branding. The handle attachements are shorter D-rings, without a second part to accomodate a shoulder strap. Note: A matching shoulder strap can be sourced upon request.

Hermès ‘Kelly’ 32 Retourne



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