A lesson in the Business of Luxury…


The birth of a classic is a moment in time which only truly resonates decades later, when the “classic” status of the item in question is assured by its continued recognition and desirability.

The Client is very excitedly anticipating a new exhibition (opening 17th April) at the V&A which will bring into focus one such classic item. Couture pieces from the wardrobe of Oscar-winning actress the late Grace Kelly will go on show and among the genius creations of such masters as Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent, one item will stand out as a true example of classic fashion design meeting exceptional luxury marketing; Kelly’s Hermes handbag.

The bag in question was not created for or commissioned by Princess Grace; A retail model designed in the 1930’s, the bag enjoyed moderate success until it was photographed in the hands of Princess Grace as she used it to shield her pregnant waistline from photographers in the 1950’s. The glamour of the moment when a Princess protected her modesty and the private joy of her pregnancy, infused the object to establish the bag as an item of international recognition. In the spirit of true marketing genius (and to the cynical, savvy opportunism) the house named the bag the Kelly. Still in production today, a visit to Hermes’ international flagship in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore in Paris reveals the extent to which the key elements of this design infuses and inspires the creation of an entire line of women’s accessories including such extentions as the Kelly Clutch. Those familiar with the Birkin bag (which as a case in point was created especially for Jane Birkin in the 1980s) will note the similarity in the closure, hardware and styling of the two models.

This upcoming exhibition will include jewellery (it is being sponsored by Van Cleef et Arpels), stunning couture and such objects as Kelly’s Oscar, won in 1954. For people interested in the business of luxury, this exhibition will serve as a masterclass.

Grace Kelly was a client of another of my favourites, Smythson. As a wedding gift, Smythson presented a bespoke diary made in red calf leather and cream vellum, with her new Royal monogram applied to the front cover.

South Kensington, London SW7.

Exhibition runs 17th April – 26th September


One Response to “A lesson in the Business of Luxury…”

  1. Lady J Says:

    This is one exhibition that I would love to see. If only I were in London!

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