History of the Kelly Bag

Grace Kelly – Hermes Kelly bag

Now an expensive status symbol, such was the popularity of Grace Kelly in the 1950s that the luxurious Hermès bag she carried with her everywhere became rechristened with her name, ensuring the late Hollywood actress-turned-princess a lasting legacy in the fashion world. It would make Grace Kelly, an actress of only seven professional years, a cultural icon.


The Sac à dépêches bag, as it was then known, was created in 1935, eleven years after the invention of the first leather handbag. Its earlier incarnations included high handles and smaller designs than most handbags of the day. It wasn’t until Émile-Maurice Hermès’s son-in-law Robert Dumas redesigned the bag that it became the Sac à dépêches we know today. With a little more glamor, a memorable trapezium shape, and studs on the bottom allowing the bag to stand, the Sac à dépêches was born.

Its uniqueness laid in its craftsmanship. Each bag is hand-designed, quite literally, by a single artisan, requiring a total of 18 to 25 hours of over 2,500 hand-stitches. For that reason, the Kelly bag holds its high retail price.


It was Alfred Hitchcock who introduced Grace Kelly to the Hermès bag. In the ’50s, she became his new muse – and he sought to use Kelly to bring elegance into his thrillers. With enough guidance from Edith Head, the Sac à dépêches bag became Kelly’s weapon of choice in To Catch a Thief, the picture that made Kelly fall in love with Europe. Her choice of preference was crocodile skin, either brown or navy blue, the two most popular colors to this day.


It was the birth of paparazzi. Elio Sorci was photographing Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. Years later, Marlon Brando would punch Ron Galella in the jaw. Grace Kelly was no exception to high-profile scrutiny. Her engagement to Prince Rainier III was the talk of the town. She would be the first American princess – famous in her own right. She used her handbag to shield her pregnant belly from the paparazzi. In 1956, Life magazine featured such a photograph of her bag, and so iconic was that image that the public began referring to it as the “Kelly” bag.

And the name stuck.


To read the other blogposts celebrating Grace Kelly please click here and follow The Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon co-hosts The Wonderful World of Cinema & The Flapper Dame!



9 thoughts on “History of the Kelly Bag

  1. The Flapper Dame

    One day (ya know I I stop buying classic movies-which probably wont happen!) I would like to own a Kelly bag just because it is so elegant and beautiful- Id be too afraid to use it though!!! I never realized it was created in 1935 and around long before Grace came into contact with it- super intriguing!! I also love the handbag she uses in rear window the one she carries her negligee in- so gorgeous! Thank you for writing this cool post for the blogathon and In the future I hope to do one of yours!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent article, Victor, and creative idea for the blogathon! I would love to own a Kelly bag, but for the moment I’m too poor hahah. However, now thanks to your informative article, I understand better why it’s so expensive (not just because “It’s a Hermès”).
    Thanks so much for your participation to the blogathon!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Many thanks to the participants of the 4th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon! – The Wonderful World of Cinema

  4. How interesting! There are certainly a lot of subjects linked to Grace Kelly besides her films, and with each post in this blogathon I learn a little more. Your post was short but perfectly informative.
    Thanks for the kind comment!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s