The Kelly Bag: A Tale of Princesses, Hermès, and Fashionable Destiny

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How Grace Kelly had the Hermès bag named after her and turned it into every fashionista's dream.

Everyone probably knows that Hermès' legendary Kelly bag is named after Grace Kelly, the famous actress and Princess of Monaco. A lesser-known fact is that it was not created to honour Hitchcock's favourite actress and the wife of Prince Rainier III. Actually, it got its name a long time after it was first manufactured. But first things first.

The first prototype of the future it-bag was a bag for carrying and stowing horses' saddles (yes, Hermès originally specialised in equestrian equipment) in 1892. In 1923, Emile-Maurice Hermès changed the design so his wife Julie could bring it in the car. And in the following decade, Robert Dumas, Hermès' son-in-law, used the design as the basis for a roomy travel bag he called Sac à Dépêches, or a postman's bag (You have to admit it doesn't look anything like modern mail bags).

It was this version of the design that Grace Kelly got her hands on.

In 1954, the legendary Hollywood costume designer Edith Head bought a Sac à Dépêches for the filming of Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief starring Grace Kelly. The future Princess of Monaco fell in love with the roomy bag, which contrasted sharply with the fashionable miniature reticules that were common at the time.

Just a couple of years later, already married to Prince Rainier, Kelly posed with her Sac à Dépêches for some photographs. And it wasn't that she was a big fan of Hermès or that specific bag; she was simply trying to cover up her belly to conceal from the press that she was pregnant.

A photo of Grace Kelly holding her Sac à Dépêches ended up on the cover of Life Magazine, and her reputation as a style icon made the bag an instant status symbol. All the fashionistas worldwide immediately wanted one and started calling it the Kelly bag. Hermès only officially renamed their iconic accessory the Kelly bag in 1977.

Grace Kelly remained touchingly attached to her favourite bag: she was later spotted with one on numerous occasions. She kept using one such bag until it, literally, had holes in it: there are pictures in the archives of the Prince's Palace of Monaco in which Grace Kelly can be seen with a Hermès bag that has stains and scuffs all over.

In 2010, it was even exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, along with Grace Kelly's other personal effects.