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Handbags - On the Shoulder

On the Shoulder: Vintage Hermès Kelly Sellier 35

Our handbags expert, Reece Morgan, continues our On the Shoulder series by testing out a 1997 Hermès Kelly Sellier in brown Ardennes leather.

In 1956, when the idolised Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, stepped out of a car using her favourite Hermès handbag to shield her pregnancy, her photo made the cover of Life magazine and the bag effectively went viral. From that point on it became known as the “Kelly”.

In the decades since, the Hermès Kelly has come to symbolise luxury style. It’s always chic, it's made to an impossible quality and it's exclusive beyond comparison. It comes in two different shapes; the Sellier, or “Rigide”,  the bag in focus today, is marked by sharp edges with a structured feel and stitching on the outside. The alternative is the Retourne, or “Souple”, which has softer, rounded edges and corners, and the stitching is on the inside. The difference is subtle, but the Sellier is considered to be a touch more serious and so dressier. It also arguably holds its shape a little better over time.

Xupes handbags, handbags expert, Reece Morgan, 1997 Hermès Kelly Sellier brown Ardennes leather

This Kelly Sellier is from the late nineties but it’s in very good nick. It’s made from Ardennes leather, a hide made from cows from the rustic Ardennes region in northeast France, which was replaced with Vache Liegee leather at the turn of the century. It’s a “Terre” model, French for earth, which describes its dark-brown colour.  We gave it to Reece, who has already reviewed a Kelly Retourne 32, to take home and tell us what he thought about it.

Xupes handbags, handbags expert, Reece Morgan, 1997 Hermès Kelly Sellier brown Ardennes leather

What first attracted you to the bag?

Having already tested out a Retourne 32 and a 2012 Hermès Birkin 40cm, I have started developing a taste for these earthy coloured Hermès bags. Whether this new love of brown tones has something to do with the change in season or it’s just an appreciation for the beautifully crafted Hermès leathers in their natural colours I can’t tell you. But I don know it was love at first sight with the Terre Ardennes leather Sellier Kelly 35cm.

Aesthetics aside, Ardennes is one of my favourite Hermès leathers to date. It’s extremely rigid and sturdy, it holds its shape very well and it’s slightly thicker than other Hermès grains. It’s also both water and scratch resistant. For some reason unknown to me Ardennes is no longer in production, which makes me even more attracted to it!

Xupes handbags, handbags expert, Reece Morgan, 1997 Hermès Kelly Sellier brown Ardennes leather

Is there anything you’re not too keen on?

The bag is already complicated enough to open and close, but with the leather being so rigid it makes it even more difficult to turn the lock opening. As a solution, like with the Retourne 32, I kept the main flap closed and left the straps undone—I actually like this look and it made it less fiddly to open frequently.

Xupes handbags, handbags expert, Reece Morgan, 1997 Hermès Kelly Sellier brown Ardennes leather

How did you feel when you wore it? Was it comfortable?

The bag is very comfortable to carry on both my arm and shoulder. It can get quite heavy due to the thick leather, but it’s not a bag I would want to overfill anyway, so the weight was never an issue for me. I preferred to carry the 32 on my arm, but due to the larger size of this 35, I made good use of the shoulder strap, which I think looked and felt great to wear.

Xupes handbags, handbags expert, Reece Morgan, 1997 Hermès Kelly Sellier brown Ardennes leather

Would you say it was an everyday bag or an occasion bag?

I would say it’s too large to be an evening bag, although I would wear this to dinner and drinks. The Kelly is slightly more formal than the Birkin so you can get away with dressing it up.

Is there anything you would change about the bag?

If there is any way Hermès could make the opening easier to function that would be great!

Xupes handbags, handbags expert, Reece Morgan, 1997 Hermès Kelly Sellier brown Ardennes leather

Who would you recommend this bag for?

I think this bag would suit a huge range of styles, anyone from professionals to traditionalists to bohemian-chic it girls.  

Xupes handbags, handbags expert, Reece Morgan, 1997 Hermès Kelly Sellier brown Ardennes leather

Did your feelings towards the bag change over the week?

I still love it as much as I did when I first saw it!

Xupes handbags, handbags expert, Reece Morgan, 1997 Hermès Kelly Sellier brown Ardennes leather

And finally … Overall Score?

Quality — 10

Style — 9

Value — 8.5

Overall — 8.5/10

If you would like to see more information and pictures, visit our dedicated pre-owned and vintage Hermès handbags page.