When it comes to iconic luxury fashion houses, the House of Hermes stands tall among the competition with its untarnished reputation and unwavering devotion to timeless designs. The exceptional craftsman, Thierry Hermes, created the brand in 1837 as a harness workshop in Paris, seeking to provide Europe's noblemen with leather goods for their horses. It wasn’t until Thierry’s son, Charles-Émile, moved the company to its current location in Paris’ 24 Rue Du Faubourg Saint-Honore and instituted the crafting of saddles, that the brand took root in the luxury fashion world. While many Hermes handbags are designed paying homage to the brand's origins with horse grooming and equestrian aesthetics in mind, the iconic Hermes logo may be the biggest tribute. Inspired by a famous French artwork called “le Duc Attele, Groom a L’Attente”, by Alfred de Dreux, the logo depicts the horse-drawn carriage and waiting groom; an illustration almost as beautifully intricate as the handcrafted handbags themselves.
Arguably the most iconic and coveted handbag to date, the Hermes Birkin is recognized worldwide for its jutted flap and signature sangle touret design. It is purported that the Hermes Birkin was originally drafted as a sketch on an airplane sick bag. On that fated day, Jean-Louis Dumas, then director of Hermes, shared an airplane aisle with Hollywood starlet Jane Birkin. As Birkin struggled to rifle through the contents of her Hermes Kelly Bag, she confided in Dumas about her desire for a handbag with easy accessibility and the compact stature to be able to fit beneath the plane’s seat. He then sketched the handbag in the vision of the Hermes Kelly, but with a curved upper perimeter, a notched leather flap, and dual rolled leather top handles, enabling a wide entrance to the interior. The handbag became an instant hit, and was coined the Hermes Birkin in honor of the fashion icon that commissioned its creation.
The origins of the Hermes Bolide Bag are widely speculated, although several certainties include knowledge of the bag being crafted in 1923, and that it was Hermes’ first ever zippered bag. As with many leather designs at the time, the handbag was intended to aid the traveler lifestyle that was booming in the early 1920s. The style is said to be a commissioned piece, requested by the infamous automobile entrepreneur Ettore Bugatti, who desired a handbag that would fit perfectly inside his new car, the Bugatti Torpedo. The Hermes handbag was aptly named the Hermes Torpedo; however, many people at the time referred to the Hermes bag as “le sac pour l’auto”, translating to “the bag for the car”. The dome trapezoidal shape, secured zippered interior, and exterior clochette with keys made the bag the perfect sidekick for travelling by car, as many automobiles lacked roofs and side doors at the time. It wasn’t until 1994 that the classic Hermes handbag was renamed the Hermes Bolide, French for the 'Hermes comet’, a nickname for sports cars during the mid 20th century.
Falling in line with today’s popular minimalist trend, the Hermes Picotin makes for instant sophistication with its effortlessly slouched bucket bag frame and simple padlock weighted strap. This contemporary Hermes handbag drew inspiration from the equestrian heritage that marked the designer fashion house’s early days. The bucket-style body and flat carry straps were directly influenced by horse feed bags; a useful tool which allows the horses to eat while upright. Hermes’ take on the simple equestrian pouch reimagines the concept and style with an air of elegance and indisputable refinement that's made it a coveted pick in the Hermes handbag lineup.
An anomaly compared to the structured and refined silhouettes of Hermes’ previous 'it bags', the Hermes Lindy offers a playful and practical frame, with its functional design catering to the lives of the mid 1900s European traveler. The unique frame features dual handles, which are cleverly affixed to the sides to enable its boxy and upright display when carried on-shoulder. The name of this Hermes handbag shadows the energetic swing-style Lindy dance, born in Harlem in 1928, and it's eccentric dance shapes.
As elegant as the fashion-icon that inspired it, the Hermes Kelly offers a structured silhouette complete with a refined single top handle, a sophisticated straight flap, and the polished classic Hermes padlock & clochette. Originally conceived in the late 1890s, the bag was intended to carry a horse's saddle; however, by the 1930s, the bag had been reimagined in a more similar silhouette to the 'it bag' we know and love today. The handbag was originally known casually as “le sac depeches” during this time, but was renamed after the American actress Grace Kelly. Kelly was gifted the handbag in 1954, when she was famously photographed cleverly placing the handbag to conceal her high-profile pregnancy from the press. The image continued to circulate for over two decades, and by 1977, the new name was born, and the beloved socialite became forever linked to the classic French luxury fashion house.
In the late 1970s, the burgeoning house of Hermes had separate collections for their day-wear handbags and functional equestrian tools. It was then that the Hermes Evelyne was created by Evelyne Bertrand, the head of Hermes’ riding department, in the year of 1978. The silhouette offered a webbed crossbody strap for carrying items hands-free, and featured a perforated design for the purpose of ventilation. Around its original conception, equestrian riders used the Hermes Evelyne as a carry-all for horse-grooming tools, with the perforated H logo to be worn against the body so that the brushes would dry slowly and naturally within the bag. The Hermes Evelyne later gained exceptional popularity among the collectors of luxury handbags, causing the house of Hermes to release the Evelyne in a variety of iterations specifically intended for the ready-to-wear collections. The perforated H logo remained a core part of the design, becoming more of a luxury statement than a functional choice.
Hermes handbags are notoriously difficult to pin down at Hermes stores. Not only do the bags come at a steep buy-in cost, but the most classic Hermes bags also boast lengthy waitlists, of which even securing a placement comes with annual Hermes spending requirements. It is for that reason that many collectors of designer handbags turn to the luxury resale market, recognizing an opportunity to find the most coveted preloved authentic Hermes handbags at a fraction of the price, without the traditional Hermes retail hassles. As popular luxury handbags become discontinued, or seasonal colors go out of production, the secondary market provides an even more desirable location for buyers to find their preowned Hermes handbags, often with their original boxes, wrapping, and ribbons.