Hey everyone! I’m back! I hope that you and your loved ones are happy and healthy and have been getting through this time as well as can be hoped. For the past several months life here has been consumed with one teen having two eye surgeries; teaching myself how to draw Hermès bags, managing the other teen’s multiple attempts to start an online business, and teen 1’s entire college application process. I have been fortunate to have remained connected with many friends through the PurseForum over the years, so in that regard, my friendships haven’t missed a beat. With so much uncertainty this year and for the foreseeable future, it has been a balancing act between the serious and the frivolous…but during uncertainty, the frivolous can be a necessary escape. With that in mind, I am so thrilled to write for you again; it’s ok to be light.
So for this first article I shall be extremely light and will share something absolutely frivolous; I am beyond fortunate to have *finally* received the call from my wonderful Sales Associate (SA) last week, advising me that my bag had arrived.
Actually, I was not entirely sure just which bag had arrived; we are now in the middle of the season (nearing the end) for Autumn/Winter 2020. My Spring/Summer 2020 order was placed all the way back in June 2019; at the time I was feeling risky, so I didn’t even pick a color, telling the manager my choices for the bag style, leather and hardware, with my only color specification being “pick the most outrageous color they’re offering this season”. She knows my taste so I thought this would be a fun way to do it (otherwise I will list every conceivable shade in my color range, which – let’s be honest – can get really tedious for whomever has to write it all down).
So, a year and a half later, this podium order had still not arrived. Since placing that order I had placed subsequent orders, and considering the shutdowns around the world and the ensuing confusion about available stock, I pretty much had written that first order off. An earlier shipment in September had also produced a phone call from my SA, and as we excitedly opened the box in the boutique we both quickly discovered that it was, in fact, not my order. It was the same color and hardware, but an entirely different bag. My boutique had not received any shipments between that September delivery and now, in November, so at this point, I was excited to not just be getting a bag, but also to actually find out which one. I invited my husband to join me (he usually prefers an “at home” reveal, which has the benefits of me being happy already and no waiting for him). What would we find when we opened the box?
I made an appointment with my wonderful SA to pick up the bag on a Sunday afternoon. After quite some wait, we were ushered into a private room to open the box. I was pretty sure that my husband had his game face on (is this it???), especially when my SA came back with a small box and pulled this little, bright, dainty thing out of the very small bag that contained it.
Ah…finally. A Mini Kelly II. I’ve been after one of these for a bit. While the mini bag craze has been going on for a few years now, smaller bags have been my main interest since as my children were old enough to carry their own things; as early as 2011 I was trying to order a 25 cm Birkin, and at that time Hermès just wasn’t really producing many of them due to lack of interest, as most customers were still carrying 32 and 35 cm bags. My first Birkin, a 30 cm, was considered “small”; a beautiful 28 cm sellier Kelly in Rouge Garrance sat on the shelf in my boutique for months unpurchased (not to mention the Rose Dragee Kelly Danse which also sat on the shelf for at least a year). Since then I’ve been fortunate to acquire several 25 cm Birkins and Kellys, but for evening they both still felt a bit unwieldy, and were fairly inappropriate for formal events.
The Mini Kelly – or the Mini Kelly II, as this is not the first version of the small Kelly that Hermès has produced, but a rethought, streamlined version that Hermès introduced around 2016 – is meant to fit that space between evening clutch and day bag, a functional but very small bag that would fully embody the iconic Kelly shape with a more subtle presence that could, if needed, go anywhere.*
Let’s take a look around, shall we?
The specs: Mini Kelly 20 cm in Bamboo Chevre, Gold Hardware, US Price: $9,300 (for Chevre).
Ok, you’re familiar with what this bag looks like. It’s a Kelly, just smaller – more or less. The size is supposed to be approximately 20 cm; the dimensions I measured on mine are approximately 7 3/8″ wide x 2 3/8″ deep (at the base; it’s a bit narrower towards the top) x 7 3/8″ high (5″ from bottom to top of the bag; another 2 3/8″ to the top of the handle). The handle has the same firmness as a typical Kelly handle (which is more solid, flatter and has a lower arc than a Birkin handle) and the bag drop (the space between the top of the bag and the bottom of the top part of the handle – the space your hand or wrist has to hold the bag – is about 2″. Mini Kellys are all made in the sellier (“rigide”) style, in either Epsom or Chevre leather (they are also made in exotic leathers including Ostrich and Alligator) so it will have and maintain a structured appearance.
The closure is also the same, however, bear in mind that as everything is smaller, the sangles (straps) don’t move quite as freely as they do in the larger sizes. There isn’t a lock, clochette or key.
Here the Mini Kelly is noticeably different. Like the Kelly Pochette, the interior has just one slide pocket on the back side, perfect for a claim ticket or table card and not much else.
The Mini Kelly also has feet like the larger Kellys (the Pochette and the Cut do not). The feet seem to me to be proportionally smaller than those on the larger sizes. I mention the feet because I have seen at least one questionable Instagram account insist that Kellys and Birkins do not have feet. Of course they do! (Certain Hermès styles do not, which is a subject I will address in a future article.)
The Mini Kelly comes with an adorable and useful strap. It measures approximately 38 3/8″ from end to end (the leather part of the strap without the metal clasps is about 37 3/8″). This is not a crossbody length unless you want your bag hanging in your armpit or in the middle of your chest (hey, different strokes). The clasp at each end of the strap swivels 360º to make it easy to attach to the bag and allows the bag to move easily while you’re wearing it.
What It Carries:
This is, as I’ve mentioned, a small bag. It’s a VERY small bag. For the first day I owned it I could not believe how tiny it really is, for a bag that is meant to be fully functional. The truth is, though, if you don’t need to carry much and are a bit creative, it IS fully functional. The most basic way to carry your necessities is as I have done it in the photo above:
-Calvi (cards on one side, cash on the other)
However, as nice as this looks, this isn’t the way I have found myself actually using it. It has been looking more like this:
First, please note that my phone in the top photo is an iPhone 11 Pro in the smaller size (second photo is of an older iPhone of the same size, as I used the 11 to take the photo). I selected this phone specifically in anticipation of the Mini Kelly and it fits fine. I do tend to take it out of its case when I put it in the bag.
This is a little soft jewelry pouch I have with a divided interior. On one side I keep a few cards and cash; on the other side I have a mini hand sanitizer from Bath and Body Works, snagged from one of my kids. It’s important to note that you should not carry any colored hand sanitizer, carry clear only, as the coloring in hand sanitizer can dye the leather.
If I don’t have a pocket.
My husband’s car key is under the mask. There’s not a whole lot of Valet Parking happening right now.
Arranged like this I still have room for a lipstick or gloss, which I would bring for a formal event but not to dinner (I’m not going to fix my lipstick when soon I’m going to be brushing my teeth).
As someone whose daily bag is 25 cm, the Mini Kelly seems exponentially smaller. I’ve seen people use this for travel and again, that’s fine if you’re just carrying your phone, cash and room card. It’s not any more “fidgety” opening and closing the straps as the larger sized bags and quite honestly, although people disagree as to whether you will damage your bag by closing only the turnlock without the straps, whatever you’re carrying in this size of the bag will probably be so light that I don’t see that being a genuine concern. The weight of what is inside the bag is placed solely on the turnlock though, so it’s not a great idea to do this regularly if you are carrying a regular-sized Kelly by the handle.
The Mini Kelly is definitely for the person who knows what they want and need. It can be used day or night as long as not much is needed where you are going. The price, which has risen quite a bit over the past few years, reflects the reality that the amount of time and materials needed to make the bag are not significantly less than for the larger sizes (and one would presume that properly making one this size would actually require more skill, dexterity and attention to detail), so the price is very similar to a 25 cm retourne Kelly. Another thing to bear in mind is that, as scarce as these tend to be, with the production interruptions due to the lockdowns in France and elsewhere I assume they will be equally or even more so for the foreseeable future. Personally, I am very happy to have one of these, as it suits my needs, and although it is definitely not for everyone, for those like me who have fallen in love with the Mini Kelly, it is like a small jewel, and even my very practical husband has told me that it is his favorite.
*I do realize that a formal evening bag is really “supposed” to be a silk or cloth clutch – no leather, no handle – so feel free to disagree with me on whether you consider this a genuine evening bag. To that I will just ask that you look around at the next formal event you attend and see what everyone else is wearing and carrying. At least here in New York, I’ve seen it all!