Everyone wants custody of a 'Kelly' handbag

USA TODAY - by Olivia Barker

For one of the stars of the summer movie season, beauty isn't only crocodile-skin deep. Or so say devotees of the Hermés "Kelly" bag, a red reptilian version of which seduces Kate Hudson's American-in-Paris character in Le Divorce.

Celluloid, celebrity and socialite Kelly fans alike rhapsodize about its everlasting elegance and classic proportions, an homage to Grace Kelly, whose love of the bag in the '50s gave it its moniker. Ever since, waiting lists for the Kelly bag have fluctuated from several months to a couple of years. The list is currently closed to allow the company to catch up on back orders. Timeless, ladylike qualities, in addition to superior craftsmanship, warrant the $4,650-plus price tag, insist Kelly owners and dreamers.

Le Divorce's bag cost $16,000; a crocodile model with diamond-encrusted platinum fittings goes for $80,000 and up.

The purse is so iconic that designer Steven Stolman had been successfully selling a rubber imitation, dubbed the Jellykelly (even though it's actually a copy of that other coveted Herm»s bag, the Birkin) until the luxury-goods legend slapped him with a lawsuit a few weeks ago. "It is the Rolls-Royce of handbags," says Harper's Bazaar editor in chief Glenda Bailey, who owns "only" two, including Audrey Hepburn (news)'s brown crocodile Kelly. (She outbid Matt Lauer for it at an auction in April, snagging the textured treasure for a reported $25,000.) "There's something so deliciously gorgeous about them. You can't really value the worth of a Kelly bag in monetary terms."


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