The story of the Kelly bag began long before it assumed its now-famous moniker. Originally known as the Sac à Dépêches, it was designed in 1930 by Hermès CEO Robert Dumas as a refined take on the larger saddle bags of the brand’s equestrian heritage. A clean-cut trapezium shape with practical straps, its design was as discreet as it was chic – something which whispered luxury, rather than shouted it.
A royal cover-up
Dumas’ Sac à Dépêches was a popular style for the brand, but it wasn’t until 25 years later that its true star potential was realised. Whilst working on the Hitchcock classic To Catch a Thief in 1954, the actress Grace Kelly was given a Sac à Dépêches to wear as part of her character’s wardrobe. Grace loved the bag so much that, once the film wrapped, she continued to carry it with her off set. It was one of the last films she would make – two years later, at the age of 26, Grace made the historic move from Hollywood ingénue to Princess of Monaco during a fairytale wedding to Prince Rainier III, watched on live television by over 30 million people. After their nuptials, newly pregnant with her first daughter, Grace turned to her trusted Sac à Dépêches to help shield her growing baby bump from the waiting paparazzi. With Grace looking typically glamorous in a sumptuous coat, white gloves and sunglasses, the image appeared in magazines around the world – and the newly crowned ‘Kelly’ bag was thrust into the spotlight with it. A longtime nickname for the bag ever since, Hermès officially renamed the Sac à Dépêches as the Kelly in 1977.