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The return of the Hermès Kelly Danse

The Kelly Danse is a small clutch bag designed to be worn cross body, around the waist, or as a back pack. It has just been re-released by Hermès to great excitement.   The desirability of this versatile little number is a great example of well-considered product marketing. It is something very few brands can afford to do and manage well.  This is what has happened: Hermès released the bag more than a decade ago, in small quantities, when the style and size was not at the height of fashion.  They then discontinued it, just as people began to understand its value.  This fuelled the bag’s desirability among a small following, and enhanced the brand image.  Years later, in autumn 2019, now the style has become fashionable, Hermès has re-released the piece, and voila, they have created a new bag which already has an eager audience.  And because it was designed before, Hermès can maintain its claim to not be influenced by trends.  As an added bonus, Hermès has attracted a new customer, a younger one, who follows seasonal trends, which is a new dimension in Hermès’ usual conservative  retail space.  Welcome back, the Kelly Danse!

Here is the Gris Perle Hermès Kelly Danse which we received yesterday.

The History of the Kelly Danse
The original Hermès Kelly Danse was released in 2007, in soft Swift leather, and discontinued in 2013.  It was a casual version of the Kelly Pochette, in softer leather, without the top handle, and with a long strap.  It never achieved the iconic status of the Kelly Pochette and was aimed at a younger market.  We love the name: it must be the only handbag Hermès has produced whose name hints at functionality: young ladies could dance while wearing a cross body handbag, which at that time was unheard of  in high fashion.

The Lilac Blue experience
We sold a handful of these bags between 2009 and 2012. Not many people knew of them and they were extremely casual for an Hermès design.  At this time the Kelly Pochette and Kelly Cut clutch bags were popular, but only amongst the serious Hermès cognoscenti.

Then just as Hermès stopped making the bag a number of our Kuwaiti clients – ladies from Kuwaiti high society were some of the first serious collectors of Hermès Birkins and Kellies – started asking for the Kelly Danse. Their girls could wear the bag cross body and they understood its chic yet practical design.
We had a Blue Jean one in stock for a few days in 2014. Then we had a terrible theft, of the Kelly Danse and four larger Kellies and Birkins. We tracked the bags
across London, and got most of them back, but the Kelly Danse had already been sold on, within a day!

Fast forward to 2019 and the world is going mad for small bags worn cross-body. And rucksacks. This bag meets both demands. It can also be worn as a bum bag, or fanny pack. But as you may know, Lilac Blue has never come to terms with the bum bag… the very name shrieks style disaster….

Parchemin Kelly Danse. Image courtesy of Xupes

The Kelly Danse original was 17 x 22 x 7cm with one strap which could be work single 63cm or doubled at 33cm.

The Kelly Danse II is the same dimensions, with a longer strap. It can now also be worn as a rucksack, or around the waist, if you really must.

The Danse Kelly was initially made in Swift leather – a smooth pliable leather suited to small accessories. Handbag buyers don’t like this leather, because it looks delicate and smooth on larger items, so Hermès has changed to the more resilient Evercolor. The Kelly Danse II appeared in July 2019, and we are currently only seeing it in natural colours such as Gris Perle and Etoupe.  As Hermès has concentrated the last few years on bright new hues, this may be a welcome return to neutral shades, at least for A/W 2019.

The price in Europe is €4,900 Euros, in the US approximately $7,000 USD – if you are lucky enough to be invited to purchase one. The price on the resale market looks set to be around €12,000, or £12,000 here in the UK.  This may change according to supply and demand.

Lilac Blue London has some pre-loved Kelly Danse bags from 2008 to 2012 in excellent condition in Black; Rose Dragee; Jaune d’Or and Parchemin:

and new ones just arriving here.

Editorial Comment and Recommendations

Was the creation of the Kelly Danse and Kelly Danse II really part of a 12 year product marketing strategy? Did Hermès really tease us in 2008-12 with this bag, knowing that the market for very small bags would burgeon and explode in 2018? Almost certainly not. Hermès is extremely lucky to be able to release this bag right now: its launch in 2008 might be called ill-timed, the design ill-conceived. What is clear however is that Hermès has maintained its position at the very top of the luxury handbag market over the last decade, a decade which has seen exponential growth, investment and inflation in luxury accessories. Never before have so many women, across so many continents, coveted a Hermès handbag. So to have created a bag in 2008 which becomes highly desirable ten years later, and more importantly one which you can effortlessly re-release, is a stroke of good fortune and not a strategic stroke of genius. But having been dealt this amazing deck of cards, Hermès plays them unusually well. Arguably better than any other luxury brand.  This is why:

The last six months – Summer and Autumn of 2019 – has brought a frenzy of desire for an Hermès bag.  The last time the market was this alive with desire
and super inflated prices was 2012. The bag? The Mini Kelly II. Requests for the bag come from all corners of the world, every day. Prices for this Mini Kelly II 20cm have reached way beyond 100% above the retail price, and are currently – November 2019 – around £14,000 for a Black Mini Kelly. (Please be VERY careful if you are offered one for less than £11,000, please contact us if you are unsure of your seller.)  This level of markup in the handbag resale market –
from £6,000 to £15,000 – has not been  seen for many years. What an amazing achievement for Hermès.

Back to the relaunch of the Kelly Danse: it seems highly coincidental that the Mini Kelly 20cm production is stalled just as the Kelly Danse is released.  Will the Kelly Danse become as sought after as the Mini Kelly? While Hermès does not have an official Marketing Department, someone is seeking to ensure that the hunger for bags continues to grow and younger customers are drawn to the brand.

If you like the Kelly Danse and the Mini Kelly, have you considered one of the original Mini Kellies?  You can find this Mini Kelly here.  And to see how these bags shape high street fashion, you only have to look at this new Lee Radziwill Petite Bag by Tory Birch.
Available at Shopbop.

And if you really want to show your individuality and appreciation of the rare, this Hermès yellow Lizard Mini Kelly, which is from 1986 and may be older than many of you, is a rare collector’s piece.  It is fragile and worn, but is expected to grow enormously in value.

Our thanks go to Purse Blog for their endlessly brilliant writing and research.

Annabelle Hunt

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