An expert’s guide to Hermès Mini Kelly handbags

Fashion trends may come and go, but the mini handbag trend is here to stay, remaining a prominent fixture in the handbag collecting and auction market over the years. Numerous brands have introduced their own mini versions of popular handbags, with the Hermès Mini Kelly bag the top choice among collectors

In the early 20th century, small handbags were a symbol of affluence among upper-class ladies, who used them often while out, leaving larger items to be carried by valets. Fast forward to the 21st century, lightweight mini bags have gained popularity for their handiness, allowing users to streamline their belongings and carry only what they truly need. This minimalist approach aligns with the desire for simplicity embraced by many modern people. Throughout its history, Hermès has introduced various mini handbags, such as the Kelly Doll, Mini Kelly, and Kelly Pochette, all of which have garnered significant attention from contemporary collectors.

Kelly Doll and Kelly Doll Picto

The Kelly bag is an iconic Hermès handbag and is best known as a tribute to the legendary Princess Grace of Monaco. The Kelly bag is also Hermès’s classic model with the most variations. One of the most memorable designs is the Kelly Doll, a limited-edition bag launched to commemorate the new millennium and therefore also known as the ‘Millennium Doll’.

Crafted under the creative direction of Jean-Louis Dumas from the House of Hermès, the Kelly Doll showcases exquisite leatherwork and hardware meticulously fashioned to resemble doll-like features, along with movable hands. Echoing its whimsical essence, the handbag is affectionately dubbed ‘Quelle Idole’ in French, and ‘Kelly Doll’ in English, imbuing a charming playfulness to its identity.

Coveted for its rarity, the Kelly Doll commands attention from collectors worldwide, often becoming the highlight of auctions. In 2015, Hermès started to offer bespoke Kelly Dolls adorned with a horseshoe stamp and presented in an array of captivating colour combinations, each exuding an irresistible charm through its endearing expressions. Notably, selected editions are embellished with the iconic Hermès store logo, commemorating special occasions such as store openings, thereby enhancing their allure and collectability to discerning handbag enthusiasts.

In 2022, Hermès unveiled the Kelly Doll Picto, a digital pixel-inspired rendition of the Kelly Doll. Reimagined with a playful aesthetic, the geometric look of the bag makes the doll’s eyes and features even more amusing. Completing it with a shoulder strap and mini rucksack, this change enhances the practicality of the adorable Kelly Doll. With their scarcity and timeless appeal, Kelly Doll handbags, regardless of colour or material, are extremely rare and continue to capture the hearts of discerning collectors worldwide.

Mini Kelly: I & II

Introduced in 2016, the Mini Kelly II bag quickly garnered global attention and emerged as a standout at Christie’s handbag auctions, setting multiple world auction records.

Why is this small-sized Kelly bag called the Mini Kelly II? Back in the 1990s, Hermès introduced a smaller version of the Kelly bag, measuring 20 centimetres at the bottom. The earlier Mini Kelly came in two versions, with the first one slightly taller than the second generation seen today. It was 20cm wide, 18cm high and 14cm deep, featuring a rounded handle resembling a bracelet which also looks like a cartoon character’s ears (which is why it is nicknamed ‘Big Ears’ by many Asian collectors).

The second version adopted a sleek shoulder-bag silhouette, trading the handle for a shoulder strap, making it effortlessly chic. The Mini Kelly I bags showcased a diverse array of materials, encompassing Hermès’s signature heritage leather and exotic leather, as well as luxurious silk and other rare materials. The Mini Kelly I bags have become prized possessions since production ceased, attainable only through auctions and highly coveted by collectors.

It is the Mini Kelly II that usually steals the spotlight at auctions, measuring approximately 20cm in width, 14cm in height and 6cm in depth. Since its debut in 2016, it has spearheaded the mini-handbag trend with great enthusiasm.

Crafted by skilled artisans in Hermès workshops, the Mini Kelly II showcases a spectrum of materials, ranging from cowhide to exotic leathers such as ostrich, lizard and crocodile skins. Notably, the horseshoe stamp version, exclusively customised for VIPs, offers a range of special features — from surface finish to interior lining, side straps, stitching and hardware — allowing collectors to express boundless creativity through this exquisite accessory.

From time to time, Hermès introduces limited-edition Mini Kelly II handbags, distinct in appearance and material from the regular models. These unique offerings elevate the handbags into captivating fashion accessories, enticing many handbag collectors to add them to their collections.

Kelly Pochette

The Kelly Pochette, a notable addition to the Kelly collection, was envisioned by Jean Paul Gaultier during his time as creative director of Hermès in Autumn/Winter 2004. Gaultier was renowned for his ability to infuse Hermès classics with a distinctive flair, and his design prowess shines through in this elegant clutch.

Versatile and stunning, the Kelly Pochette transitions seamlessly from everyday use to evening gatherings, doubling as a sleek pouch within a larger handbag. Despite its diminutive size, the Kelly Pochette has a commendable capacity, measuring approximately 22cm in width, 13cm in height and 6cm in depth. Notably, it has been designed without the traditional bottom studs, resulting in a lighter and more practical carry.

Hermès has also launched the Kelly Pochette in a number of different colours and materials, including classic cowhide and exotic leather, as well as bespoke and limited-edition designs. Since it was launched before the popular Mini Kelly II, many collectors refer to it as the Mini Kelly I. Adding to its allure among classic mini handbags, the Kelly Pochette has solidified its position as an essential accessory, cherished by collectors captivated by the timeless charm of mini handbags.

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