A Brief History Of The Kelly Bag — A Classic Icon By Hermès

Hermés Kelly Bag

The history of the Kelly bag is as iconic as the handbag itself.

To understand more about the Kelly, it is important to understand about Hermès. This iconic French house started out making harnesses and saddles for horses. So it comes as no surprise that the first version of the Kelly bag was much larger and intended to hold saddles. This version was introduced in 1892 and was known as the Haut à Courroies.

In the 1930s, a smaller version of the Haut à courroies was redesigned and renamed the Sac à Dépêches. With its trapezoid shape and top handle, the Sac à Dépêches was a departure from the popular bags of the time, which were all held at the hand and much smaller, resembling an envelope.

The History of the Kelly Bag is Closely Linked to Grace Kelly 

Grace Kelly

Fans of old Hollywood movies would most likely have seen Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film To Catch a Thief, featuring Cary Grant and actress Grace Kelly. For this movie, the costume designer purchased Hermès accessories to attire the leading lady; one of them was the Sac à Dépêches, and Kelly was head over heels with the handbag.
Two years later Grace Kelly married Prince Ranier III of Monaco and within a few months, the new princess became pregnant. Their love story seemed like a fairy tale: the small-town American beauty who married the handsome European prince. The media went crazy and the paparazzi followed the couple everywhere. To shield her growing belly from the cameras, Kelly would hide behind her Sac à Dépêches. A photo of her holding the bag made it to the cover of Life Magazine, prompting women to flood the Hermès boutiques asking for the “Kelly bag.”

Why the Kelly Bag is so Hot

Now that you know more about the history of the Kelly bag, you should know why the Kelly is so popular.

Hermès makes a lot of handbags, so why is the first leather handbag they ever made one of the most popular? The answer is simple: the Kelly bag is a classic icon. Its shape is just as current today as it was 70 years ago. The detachable shoulder straps offers ease of wear, and its two iterations: Sellier and Retourne provide versatility to the wearer.

Read: Hermès Birkin vs. Hermès Kelly

Who is Team Kelly?

Some celebrities are team Birkin and others are team Kelly. Below are some celebrities who love the Kelly bag!

Leslie Mann, Laverne Cox, and  Miroslava Duma wearing Kelly bag
Leslie Mann uses the detachable strap for hands-free travel. Laverne Cox loves a structured Kelly. Miroslava Duma loves small Kelly bags, specially in exotic skins.

Chiara Ferragni, Miranda Kerr, Rachel Zoe wear Kelly bag

Chiara Ferragni loves Birkin bags, but is known to wear a Kelly when she prefers to have her hands free. Miranda Kerr loves Kelly bags in neutral colors. Rachel Zoe carries a large Sellier Kelly and the slouchy feel fits her boho personality.


The cookie settings on this website are set to 'allow all cookies' to give you the very best experience. Please click Accept Cookies to continue to use the site.