Hermes 1978 32cm Box Calf Kelly Handbag
View Similar Items
Hermes 1978 32cm Box Calf Kelly Handbag
About the Designer
For Hermès, what began as a maker of leather equestrian goods for European noblemen would eventually grow into one of the most storied fashion labels in the world. In 1837, German-born French entrepreneur Thierry Hermès opened a saddle and harness purveyor in Paris. Gradually, the house extended into accessories and luggage for its riders, and today, in paying homage to its origins, the family-run luxury brand resurfaces horse motifs in everything from clothing and modernist jewelry to pillows and handbags.
The first top-handled bag ever produced by Hermès was the Haut à courroies, which made its debut in 1892. A tall bag secured with a folded leather flap (fastened with bridle-inspired straps), it was designed to transport riding boots and a harness. As the world made the switch from horse to automobile, the bag adapted, becoming a multifunctional travel satchel instead of a designated saddlebag. Today, 120 years later, the HAC remains in Hermès’s line — and its distinctive flap and clasping straps have laid the groundwork for some of the house’s other iconic bags.
In the 1930s, Robert Dumas (son-in-law to Émile-Maurice Hermès, Thierry’s grandson) designed a smaller, trapezoidal take on the flap bag with a handle and two side straps. Later, actress Grace Kelly, then engaged to Prince Rainier of Monaco, is said to have used one of these bags to conceal her pregnancy during the 1950s. Because she was photographed constantly, the coverage catapulted her handbag to international popularity. In 1977, Hermès officially renamed the model for her, and the Kelly bag was born. Each Kelly bag takes between 18 and 25 hours to produce, and its 680 hand stitches owe solely to one Hermès artisan.
Robert Dumas was also responsible for another one of the brand’s most iconic offerings: the launch of its first silk scarf on the occasion of Hermès’s 100th anniversary in 1937. Based on a woodblock designed by Dumas and printed on Chinese silk, the accessory was an immediate hit.
Today, vintage Hermès scarves, typically adorned in rich colors and elaborate patterns, serve many functions, just as they did back then. Well-heeled women wear it on their heads, around their necks and, in a genius piece of cross-promotion, tied to the straps of their Hermès bags. Kelly even once used one as a sling for her broken arm.
In 1981, Robert Dumas’s son Jean-Louis Dumas, then Hermès chairman, found himself sitting next to French actress and musician Jane Birkin on a plane, where she was complaining about finding a suitable carryall for the necessary accoutrements of motherhood. After the two travelers were properly introduced, Birkin helped design Jean-Louis’s most famous contribution to the Hermès canon: the Birkin bag, a roomy, square catchall with the HAC’s trademark leather flap top and the addition of a lock and key. Owing to the brand’s legendary commitment to deft, handcrafted construction, the Birkin is an investment that is coveted by collectors everywhere.
While the Kelly and Birkin may be standouts, gracing the arms of everyone from royal heiresses to hip-hop stars in the past few decades, the handbags are but a small part of Hermès’s fashion offerings. Since the 1920s, the brand has produced some of the most desirable leather goods in the world. There’s the Constance bag, a favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy, the recently relaunched 1970s-era Evelyne and, on the vintage market, a slew of designs dating back to the 1920s.
- RARE 1980's Hermes Picnic / Grooming Box Wicker BasketBy HermèsLocated in Carmel, CA1980's wicker basket by Hermes featuring leather trimming and top handle with gold-tone stamped grommets. Originally a Grooming Box but would make a lovely gathering or picnic basket...Category
1980s French Top Handle Bags$5,000 Sale Price20% Off
- Valentino Vintage Purse with Beaded FringeBy ValentinoLocated in Carmel, CAValentino cross body or shoulder handbag with exquisite beaded and embroidered design and beaded fringe. Lined in silk. Magnetic closure. Measurements:...Category
Late 20th Century Italian Shoulder Bags$950 Sale Price20% Off
- Balenciaga Taupe Agneau Giant 12 City Motorcycle Work Bag Vintage Y2KBy BalenciagaLocated in Carmel, CABalenciaga iconic "it" bag from the early 2000's. Every celebrity and fashionista owned a City Bag... and now they are back! Bag has brown calfskin leather with gold-tone giant Agnea...Category
Early 2000s Italian Hobo Bags
- James Galanos for Amelia Gray Print Silk Day Dress 1960'sBy James GalanosLocated in Carmel, CAJames Galanos for Amelia Gray of Beverly Hills silk broadcloth ladies day dress with beautiful floral print. Dress features a dropped waist and matching fabric neck tie or belt (show...Category
1970s American Informal Dresses$500 Sale Price23% Off
- Carter Smith Shibori Obiko San Francisco 4 Piece Dress EnsembleLocated in Carmel, CAShibori Maxi Dress Ensemble from the legendary San Francisco Art to Wear Mecca, Obiko. Ensemble includes 4 pieces. : turban style head piece, with Head Piece, Necklace, dress, chiffo...Category
21st Century and Contemporary American Dress and Coat Ensembles
- Hermes Gold 28 Togo Kelly Retourne Tan Gold Shoulder Bag Classic U Stamp, 2022By HermèsLocated in New York, NYHermes Gold 28cm Togo Kelly Retourne Gold Shoulder Bag Classic U Stamp, 2022 Don't miss this magnificent Gold Kelly with Gold Hardware- the most sought after combination now! Just pu...Category
21st Century and Contemporary French Top Handle Bags
- Hermès HSS Kelly 32 Sellier Rose Indienne Doblis Suede & Mauve Lizard HandbagBy HermèsLocated in NYC Tri-State/Miami, NYHermès Unique HSS Kelly 32 Sellier Rose Indienne Doblis Suede & Mauve Lizard with Palladium Hardware - Very Rare This is not just any Hermès Kelly bag -...Category
21st Century and Contemporary Top Handle Bags
- RARE Louis Vuitton Exotic Alligator Ostrich Monogram Canvas Ombre Top Handle BagBy Louis VuittonLocated in Switzerland, CHAn extremely rare Louis Vuitton piece A works of art with an extremely limited run Ultra-rare bag crafted in exotic Bordeaux alligator skin, mustard colored snakeskin and light brow...Category
21st Century and Contemporary French Top Handle Bags$7,996 Sale Price20% Off
- Timmy Woods of Beverly Hills Acacia Wood Handbag Purse Clutch Original BoxBy Timmy WoodsLocated in Montreal, QCStunning Timmy Woods of Beverly Hills Acacia Wood Handbag Purse Clutch. Brand New, with no tags with original storage/traveling pouch and box included Lacquered Acacia wood carved handbag...Category
21st Century and Contemporary American Top Handle Bags
- Fendi Multicolor Penguin Stripe Canvas and Leather Silvana Top Handle BagBy FendiLocated in Dubai, Al Qouz 2This Silvana bag by Fendi has a sophisticated look. Crafted from leather and canvas, the bag is held by a top handle and equipped with protective metal feet, a shoulder strap, and a ...Category
2010s Italian Top Handle Bags
- Fendi Tricolor Leather Small Demi Jour Top Handle BagBy FendiLocated in Dubai, Al Qouz 2Designer bags are ideal companions for ample occasions! Here we have a fashion-meets-functionality piece crafted with precision. It has been equipped with a well-sized interior that ...Category
2010s Italian Top Handle Bags
Recently ViewedView All
How to Spot a Fake Hermès Birkin Bag
The iconic Birkin bag is much coveted — and often copied. Find out how to tell the real deal from a convincing fake. Of course, you don't have to worry about this on 1stDibs, where every seller is highly vetted.
This Hermès Baseball Bag Is, Ahem, a Home Run
The beloved Bolide, one of the luxury house’s classic travel pieces, gets a playful spin in this 2018 special edition.