Will it be the Birkin or the Kelly?

Birkin or Kelly?

  • Birkin

    Votes: 38 43.2%
  • Kelly

    Votes: 50 56.8%

  • Total voters
    88

hermesgeek

Member
May 3, 2020
320
1,260
Hello loves,

I’ve had a lot of free time today so my thoughts and imagination were all over the place. “What if’s” were today’s thoughts du jour and one of them pertaining to Hermès.

The birkin and the kelly are such iconic pieces with iconic histories. I was just wondering, what if Jane Birkin missed her flight from Paris to London? Would we all be toting around in HACs? Or would the popularity of HAC be any less than it is now? Maybe the name of Hermès would be mostly known for solely the Kelly? Who knows? Also, what if Alfred Hitchcock didn’t allow Edith Head to purchase Hermès items for To Catch a Thief then Princess Grace Kelly wouldn’t have had the chance to fall in love with the bag hence, foregoing the fate of using the bag to cover her baby bump in 1956? Would the sac a depeches be as popular today? I don’t know. I can’t imagine how fashion and style would be today without these two iconic pieces that we obsess over.

Now, WHAT IF, we had to forego one of these iconic histories and choose between just Grace Kelly falling in love with the bag or Jane Birkin sitting next to Mr. Dumas to London. Which story would you choose to KEEP in this world of fashion we live in? The Birkin or the Kelly?

Would be fun to also hear your presumptions of today’s Sac du jour if one of these iconic rendezvous didn’t happen at all!

XOXO,
HermèsGeek
 

papertiger

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May 23, 2009
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G-orgeous H-eaven
The Sliding Doors of the bag world :biggrin:

I don't think most people are influenced by either heritage story when they first come across the bag. Most buy because of what it represents now (and that can mean many things to different people).

The HAC was a variation of flight mail bags, that's why they were lockable with a hefty padlock and the flap over, They were long to allow for all the mail being carried. I sometimes see them in old movies of the 1930s/40s but they go back even earlier. Similar bags were made for ships and I suppose carriages. Obviously these bags were very large but still were more portable and lighter than trunks, important for old planes. LV and Gucci have had variations of their own, I know Gucci's goes back to the 1930s, I bought a reissue of if around 10 years ago in croc/hair-calf and polished leather (like box but even more fragile) and did some research about the origins.

It's the Birkin's ability to be carried open that really popularised it IMO. The pulling of the sangles can get tiresome and there was a casualness to it whilst still fairly secure because it's 2 handles held together. I prefer the HAC but I could never carry the larger sizes because of the weight. Even as a baby bag (JB's was 35) it must be very heavy. The brand is more noticeable carried open too which may have made it more desirable in the affluent-focused 1980s.

The Kelly always seemed to be a lady-like bag even though it too was scaled down (like most Hermes bags including the Bolide, Plume etc) to create handbags. Ladies didn't carry their own bags, and if they did they were made of silk, velvet or similar. Their travel bags would be carried by servants, porters or chaperones. It was middle-class, younger women that led the way to carrying their own bags for a spot of shopping at Department stores or out and about, they were more likely to be clutches. Decades later, GK epitomised the swell of popularity for mid-century handbags as part of an outdoors ensemble, and that's why the picture GK with her namesake is burned in our heads.

Personally, I have loved both H bags since I was really little, I suppose because they are like the last echos of a bygone age with their little touches of hardware left over from a pre-Modern age when fittings for closure were more finicky. I don't think the stories of these lovely ladies figured till much later, after I learned about the bags I already admired. Both stories are good too, context which featured women and little children which seemed to be universally appealing to press and the masses alike. Both women were already clients. Funnily enough, to use and carry, I prefer the post 1923 Modern age Bolide and Plume, far more minimalist and less fussy. I still admire the HAC and K though.

I am afraid I don't understand the pole.
 

ladysarah

O.G.
Jul 17, 2008
7,849
7,952
ladysarahinlondon
The Sliding Doors of the bag world :biggrin:

I don't think most people are influenced by either heritage story when they first come across the bag. Most buy because of what it represents now (and that can mean many things to different people).

The HAC was a variation of flight mail bags, that's why they were lockable with a hefty padlock and the flap over, They were long to allow for all the mail being carried. I sometimes see them in old movies of the 1930s/40s but they go back even earlier. Similar bags were made for ships and I suppose carriages. Obviously these bags were very large but still were more portable and lighter than trunks, important for old planes. LV and Gucci have had variations of their own, I know Gucci's goes back to the 1930s, I bought a reissue of if around 10 years ago in croc/hair-calf and polished leather (like box but even more fragile) and did some research about the origins.

It's the Birkin's ability to be carried open that really popularised it IMO. The pulling of the sangles can get tiresome and there was a casualness to it whilst still fairly secure because it's 2 handles held together. I prefer the HAC but I could never carry the larger sizes because of the weight. Even as a baby bag (JB's was 35) it must be very heavy. The brand is more noticeable carried open too which may have made it more desirable in the affluent-focused 1980s.

The Kelly always seemed to be a lady-like bag even though it too was scaled down (like most Hermes bags including the Bolide, Plume etc) to create handbags. Ladies didn't carry their own bags, and if they did they were made of silk, velvet or similar. Their travel bags would be carried by servants, porters or chaperones. It was middle-class, younger women that led the way to carrying their own bags for a spot of shopping at Department stores or out and about, they were more likely to be clutches. Decades later, GK epitomised the swell of popularity for mid-century handbags as part of an outdoors ensemble, and that's why the picture GK with her namesake is burned in our heads.

Personally, I have loved both H bags since I was really little, I suppose because they are like the last echos of a bygone age with their little touches of hardware left over from a pre-Modern age when fittings for closure were more finicky. I don't think the stories of these lovely ladies figured till much later, after I learned about the bags I already admired. Both stories are good too, context which featured women and little children which seemed to be universally appealing to press and the masses alike. Both women were already clients. Funnily enough, to use and carry, I prefer the post 1923 Modern age Bolide and Plume, far more minimalist and less fussy. I still admire the HAC and K though.

I am afraid I don't understand the pole.
Great post PT and Super informative. You are such a wealth of information. Just wondering what you mean about GK and outdoor ensemble. Do you mean a travel outfit? So the kelly was still a travel bag?
 
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hermesgeek

Member
May 3, 2020
320
1,260
Great post PT and Super informative. You are such a wealth of information. Just wondering what you mean about GK and outdoor ensemble. Do you mean a travel outfit? So the kelly was still a travel bag?
I think the Sac a depeches at that time wasn’t used as a fashion statement but merely a well handmade bag. But after she was photographed with it, I know it created a buzz in the fashion industry with everyone talking about what handbag it was sans knowing the brand. Hence, being called “the Kelly bag.” So in a way, I believe Grace Kelly helped popularize and introduce the bag worldwide to untouched markets of Hermès. Correct me if I’m wrong but I was assuming that before she was photographed with the Kelly bag, the sac a depeches was more of like the “if you know, you know” type of product.
 

hermesgeek

Member
May 3, 2020
320
1,260
The Sliding Doors of the bag world :biggrin:

I don't think most people are influenced by either heritage story when they first come across the bag. Most buy because of what it represents now (and that can mean many things to different people).

The HAC was a variation of flight mail bags, that's why they were lockable with a hefty padlock and the flap over, They were long to allow for all the mail being carried. I sometimes see them in old movies of the 1930s/40s but they go back even earlier. Similar bags were made for ships and I suppose carriages. Obviously these bags were very large but still were more portable and lighter than trunks, important for old planes. LV and Gucci have had variations of their own, I know Gucci's goes back to the 1930s, I bought a reissue of if around 10 years ago in croc/hair-calf and polished leather (like box but even more fragile) and did some research about the origins.

It's the Birkin's ability to be carried open that really popularised it IMO. The pulling of the sangles can get tiresome and there was a casualness to it whilst still fairly secure because it's 2 handles held together. I prefer the HAC but I could never carry the larger sizes because of the weight. Even as a baby bag (JB's was 35) it must be very heavy. The brand is more noticeable carried open too which may have made it more desirable in the affluent-focused 1980s.

The Kelly always seemed to be a lady-like bag even though it too was scaled down (like most Hermes bags including the Bolide, Plume etc) to create handbags. Ladies didn't carry their own bags, and if they did they were made of silk, velvet or similar. Their travel bags would be carried by servants, porters or chaperones. It was middle-class, younger women that led the way to carrying their own bags for a spot of shopping at Department stores or out and about, they were more likely to be clutches. Decades later, GK epitomised the swell of popularity for mid-century handbags as part of an outdoors ensemble, and that's why the picture GK with her namesake is burned in our heads.

Personally, I have loved both H bags since I was really little, I suppose because they are like the last echos of a bygone age with their little touches of hardware left over from a pre-Modern age when fittings for closure were more finicky. I don't think the stories of these lovely ladies figured till much later, after I learned about the bags I already admired. Both stories are good too, context which featured women and little children which seemed to be universally appealing to press and the masses alike. Both women were already clients. Funnily enough, to use and carry, I prefer the post 1923 Modern age Bolide and Plume, far more minimalist and less fussy. I still admire the HAC and K though.

I am afraid I don't understand the pole.
Thank you for sharing your input and knowledge. The poll, however, was simply to see which most of us Hermès lovers would majority choose between the birkin and the Kelly in terms of its legacy and influence in fashion and the Hermès brand per se.

I agree that most people don’t purchase these pieces because of the stories behind it but rather the representation it has or the impeccable quality. It’s just that these iconic stories are what made it the bags they are today. I’m sure before these pieces were publicized by the media, it was already popular and well loved in its own right but not through a global scale. It was more of like a smaller niche of consumers that appreciate/know the brand and the quality. Kind of like how Valextra, Moreau, Faure le page, Launer are to some of us. So this post was more of to see your opinions on which one would choose in terms of the influence the two iconic pieces transcend.:smile:
 

papertiger

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May 23, 2009
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G-orgeous H-eaven
Great post PT and Super informative. You are such a wealth of information. Just wondering what you mean about GK and outdoor ensemble. Do you mean a travel outfit? So the kelly was still a travel bag?
I think bags grew and miniaturised with the various silhouettes of the day. The 1950s was particularly notable for its dictatorship of constantly changing high-fashion shapes. A K 35 would have looked good with a range of shapes, flared among the princess cuts, full skits and frou-frou, but also suitably sleek and sophisticated against a pencil skirt and boxy jackets. I think most leather and exotic handbags were for outdoor day use only, evening bags were usually made of precious materials either fabric to match the evening ensemble or made of precious metals. Quite a few silver/wg/yg and bejewelled minaudières of around that time (mid-50s). So by that measure, Ks were for going out and about. There were also Kellys made with a hidden jewellery case that sat in the bottom of the bag, undetectable from the outside, that was a proper travel Kelly (still mostly 35s).
 

asatoasz

Member
Feb 9, 2020
175
1,153
The Sliding Doors of the bag world :biggrin:

I don't think most people are influenced by either heritage story when they first come across the bag. Most buy because of what it represents now (and that can mean many things to different people).

The HAC was a variation of flight mail bags, that's why they were lockable with a hefty padlock and the flap over, They were long to allow for all the mail being carried. I sometimes see them in old movies of the 1930s/40s but they go back even earlier. Similar bags were made for ships and I suppose carriages. Obviously these bags were very large but still were more portable and lighter than trunks, important for old planes. LV and Gucci have had variations of their own, I know Gucci's goes back to the 1930s, I bought a reissue of if around 10 years ago in croc/hair-calf and polished leather (like box but even more fragile) and did some research about the origins.

It's the Birkin's ability to be carried open that really popularised it IMO. The pulling of the sangles can get tiresome and there was a casualness to it whilst still fairly secure because it's 2 handles held together. I prefer the HAC but I could never carry the larger sizes because of the weight. Even as a baby bag (JB's was 35) it must be very heavy. The brand is more noticeable carried open too which may have made it more desirable in the affluent-focused 1980s.

The Kelly always seemed to be a lady-like bag even though it too was scaled down (like most Hermes bags including the Bolide, Plume etc) to create handbags. Ladies didn't carry their own bags, and if they did they were made of silk, velvet or similar. Their travel bags would be carried by servants, porters or chaperones. It was middle-class, younger women that led the way to carrying their own bags for a spot of shopping at Department stores or out and about, they were more likely to be clutches. Decades later, GK epitomised the swell of popularity for mid-century handbags as part of an outdoors ensemble, and that's why the picture GK with her namesake is burned in our heads.

Personally, I have loved both H bags since I was really little, I suppose because they are like the last echos of a bygone age with their little touches of hardware left over from a pre-Modern age when fittings for closure were more finicky. I don't think the stories of these lovely ladies figured till much later, after I learned about the bags I already admired. Both stories are good too, context which featured women and little children which seemed to be universally appealing to press and the masses alike. Both women were already clients. Funnily enough, to use and carry, I prefer the post 1923 Modern age Bolide and Plume, far more minimalist and less fussy. I still admire the HAC and K though.

I am afraid I don't understand the pole.
Thank you for the perspective and history. I too have loved these two bags since a young child and can’t believe that I now own 2 Ks and a B.
 

ladysarah

O.G.
Jul 17, 2008
7,849
7,952
ladysarahinlondon
I think bags grew and miniaturised with the various silhouettes of the day. The 1950s was particularly notable for its dictatorship of constantly changing high-fashion shapes. A K 35 would have looked good with a range of shapes, flared among the princess cuts, full skits and frou-frou, but also suitably sleek and sophisticated against a pencil skirt and boxy jackets. I think most leather and exotic handbags were for outdoor day use only, evening bags were usually made of precious materials either fabric to match the evening ensemble or made of precious metals. Quite a few silver/wg/yg and bejewelled minaudières of around that time (mid-50s). So by that measure, Ks were for going out and about. There were also Kellys made with a hidden jewellery case that sat in the bottom of the bag, undetectable from the outside, that was a proper travel Kelly (still mostly 35s).
sounds absolutely wonderfu! I would love to find a treasure like that. Perhaps I can spend the next lockdown searching...I have streamlined my 'collection' (i laugh when i use the phrase collection as i never thought id have a 'collection'. anyway thank you for all the interesting tit bits to get our mind off the imminent disasters.